Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cicero Journal: Week 1

First Journal of the year! Here we go...

This week, we are supposed to read parts I - IV of de Amiticia (you know, on the website where we start on part 5 that has Laelius' name?...start at the beginning-ish). Then comment on two uberly cool things from you reading (that stood out to you).

So the way you post on this blog is super easy:
1) register yourself as a blogger!
2) "Comment" on this post...write your journal!

Well I hope everything works out. Cya 2morrow!


Annie A said...

Cicero Journal: Week One
Annie Alexandrian
So I am new this whole journal thing, but here is mine.

Something I think was very interesting about Cicero’s "De Amicitia" , is that he addresses Atticus in the beginning. It makes it seem like he is writing this as a letter to Atticus, his best friend. He wrote this to Atticus, in response to hearing Laelius perspective on friendship after losing his best friend. I feel that it compelled Cicero to reflect on his friendship with Atticus and death itself.

I looked up that Cicero wrote "De Amicitia" in 43 or 44 B.C., and Cicero died in 43 B.C. I don’t know what the accurate date is, but I think that at the time he made it, he was feeling maybe that he was going to die soon too. So, he wanted to write about something that has made his life much more complete: his friendship with Atticus. Although, it says in the introduction he wrote it before his conflict with Antony, so I am not sure if he had a feeling he was going to be killed.

One thing that really stood out to me was how Cicero told Atticus that he will recognize the picture of their friendship as he read. I thought that by him saying that, he was generalizing what friendship is. For Atticus to see his friendship with Cicero in a text discussing Laelius friendship with Scipio, he is saying that there are certain characteristics that every friendship has.

Another part that really sticks out to me is when Scaevola brings up the fact that Laelius has not shown his grief for his friends’ death. In response, Laelius, says, that although he is deeply sad for his death, by him grieving would not be for the love of Scipio but for his own selfishness for wanting him to be there for him. Also that Scipio’s death wasn’t so much a misfortune for him, than it was for Laelius who would no longer have his best friend there anymore. I thought it was really interesting reponse, and I never thought of grieving as being selfish. I understand what he is saying and do somewhat agree. He knows that Scipio will not come back to life if he grieves, so he if were grieve it would be solely for the fact he no longer has that companionship there for him anymore.

Another part that really stood out was when Laelius speak about all the good traits of Scipio. How he has done a lot of service for his country from the consulship, his good manners, his good treatment and respect towards his family, and his integrity. He then goes on to say how friendship could only exist between good people. I agree since it does make sense. A true friend is someone you respect and help. Why would someone help someone who treats people badly and whose actions they could not respect. Sure, there are the people who will do things for people for their own selfish motives, but that is not a friendship .It is more of an alliance a pact. A friendship is much more, it is selfless.

I really agree with Laelius’s words. I believe that he came to this idea because during the time of the Roman Empire, it was very hard to find someone to trust, let alone someone who is not even related to you. And from Laelius experience with having a true friendship with Scipio he uncovers the true meaning of what a friend is.

I believe this appealed to Cicero a lot because he could relate. Since the Roman Empire at the time wasn’t going the way he wanted with Caesar failing him, Antony gaining power, but he did have something or someone he could count on: Atticus.

cararobbins said...

I suppose one of the points that I liked from the beginning of De Amicitia was that he says “in fine, you are thought to be wise in this sense, that you regard all that appertains to your happiness as within your own soul…” (Somewhere in 2)

I think that this means that you are a wise person when you realize that happiness comes from inside. I’m not sure, I might be totally wrong (probably am) but to me, it’s saying that happy people are happy because they know who they are. They aren’t afraid to say what they feel because they are finally at peace with themselves.

The next point I really liked, was when he was talking about the death of his friend Scipio. From my translation, I think he was saying that death is really not bad. That he thinks that Scipio is in a better place. He says, “ I do not think that any evil has befallen Scipio. If any evil has befallen, it is to me.” That really the only person who loses from the loss of his friend is himself. I suppose this is true. The person who dies really doesn’t have to deal with the pain or suffering any longer. They are done. But the people that are left behind, they are the ones who continue to suffer though the loss of their dear friend.

I don’t really know if I’m doing this right, but those are my thoughts and feelings on the subject of friendship. I guess I could say that I still feel like the class idiot. Gosh Latin is so hard when it’s not just “Quintus goes to the forum.” I miss those good ol’ days. But I guess Cicero is cool. If only I understood him ☹

Mpasini said...

Well there's no way this follow-up will be even half as good as Annie's! Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty. I completely agree with everything she said - especially the notion that Cicero maybe thought his time was coming (when he wrote this whole thing about friendship) is really cool, and makes total sense. It seems like things become much clearer to people when they're almost done in this world, and they finally come to both recognize and appreciate the ideas, people, and memories are (and have been) most important to them. And like Cicero obviously stresses, friendship is ooooh so important in our lives :).

Anyways, on to my little analysis:

Death. Death. Death. When I started reading part IV, I felt like I was right back in Mythology class, and Cicero was one of my more open-minded classmates, politely explaining his ideas on the subject of life after death. Cicero acknowledges that he may be different than some modern philosophers, for he is believes in the "immortality of the soul" - that death is the end in the physical sense, not the spiritual sense. He also stresses the importance of the "divinity" of the soul in his mini-analysis, stating that each soul's path to heaven will vary in difficulty depending on how "virtuous" and "just" the person was in their lifetime. It was cute how he acknowledges that Scipio's journey must've been easy. :)

But who cares about all this...the coolest part is definitely when Cicero not only acknowledges the completely opposite side of the spectrum, but also becomes freakishly optimistic at the same time! He says: "If the truth rather is that the body and soul perish together, and that no sensation remains, then though there is nothing good in death, at least there is nothing bad." Yeah, it's hard not to trip out over this idea. So basically, whichever belief one chooses to hold on to, death is absolutely void of negativity - it's good in both respects! I thought this really lightened the tone of the whole description of Scripio's death, and tied it in with the topic of friendship perfectly, in the sense that Cicero was able to accept his friend's passing with the knowledge that he will be fine either way.

This is kind of pathetic, and the next thing I want to mention makes me realize that I have read waaaay too much Latin. I'm not saying this is a bad thing in the LEAST, I just have certain expectations... From Catullus and Ovid's scandalous love stories, to Aeneas going into that Cave with Dido...I miss girls getting in the way of everything! I know this "de Amiticia" is supposed to be more formal (and personal), but I can't help waiting on the edge of my seat to hear about Cicero's love live (and please don't take this the wrong way). I know I shouldn't expect anything though, since he was a respected politician in his time, but it seems like the ancient Romans always have something to say about girls, you know? I want Cicero and his friend to fight over a girl or something...I guess deep down I just really hope this piece isn't completely void of conflict. I want bitterness and despair too!

Wow I ended up kind of over-doing it too! Oh well. Rambling is fun.

Hope everyone will post their journals here! :)

dolatin said...

...nice johs....

Michelle said...

Cicero Journal #1

“De Amicitia”

“In connection with this work it should be borne in mind that the special duties of friendship constituted an essential department of ethics in the ancient world and that the relation of friend to friend was regarded as on the same plane with that of brother to brother.”

For someone who likes quotes (me), this thought is particularly interesting. It’s from the introduction to “De Amicitia” and I feel that it does a just job in describing how ancient Romans viewed friendship. Everything we know about Rome we’ve learned from watching movies like Gladiator or reading about the Trojan War etc. Everything we’ve become used to associating with ancient Rome has dealt with death, war, destruction… things along those lines. But now we have Cicero, an acclaimed politician, philosopher and obviously a smart man, who seems to touch more on the “gentile” aspects of ancient Rome like love, friendship, wisdom… most of which we never read about unless it’s Dido’s suicidal pining for the love of Aeneas. Cicero’s writing is a breath of fresh air… that’s not to say that a little lovesick romance isn’t good here and there… as far as I’m concerned, reading about Dido and Aeneas is just as inspiring, if not more so, as Cicero. However, so that we can have some faith in the society of ancient Rome, and so that we are at least aware that Rome was not all about war and death, Cicero’s words of wisdom are good to tuck away into the back of our minds and possibly learn from down the road.

“Thus in either event, with him [Scipio], as I have said, all has issued well, though with great discomfort for me, who more fittingly, as I entered into life before him ought to have left it before him. But I so enjoy the memory of our friendship, that I seem to have owed the happiness of my life to my having lived with Scipio.” (Section 4)

This selection from section 4 shows Cicero’s love and appreciation for Scipio’s friendship. He says that it seems unfair that Scipio leaves the world before he does considering Cicero is older that Scipio, but at the same time he states that he is grateful for Scipio’s friendship while he was alive. After such a profound statement as “I owed the happiness of my life to having lived with Scipio.” we, as readers cannot help but admire Cicero for his sheer devotion to such a friend. I suppose that this just goes to illustrate the quote above when it says “that the relation of friend to friend was regarded as on the same plane with that of brother to brother.”
Cicero has so may deep and, dare I say, sweet thoughts towards his friend Scipio. His feelings are seemingly genuine and it is a shame that we cannot read such lovely opinions without immediately questioning his sexuality.

Jamie said...

Well I just wrote one of these, and in the process of comments somehow got lost…so let me try to write it again, sweet. This friendship section is not only cute, but comforting, as Cicero shows that friendship is essential to encompass in life, and because Laelius understands the importance of friendship, he celebrates the life of Scipio, instead of grieving his death.

I enjoyed the section where Laelius explains that immense grief for the death of a friend or loved one is more representational of feeling sorry for oneself, instead of for the deceased, “But to be severely afflicted by one's own misfortunes is the token of self-love, not of friendship.” This idea makes sense, as when one mourns they are grieving for THEIR loss and how much THEY will miss having that friend in THEIR life. This is comforting, as the dead are dead, and perhaps more content in their present state (whatever that may be), as most do not long for immortality, and although it is sad, death is obviously a part of life. Laelius instead, emphasizes how blessed he is to have had Scipio in his life, and that his existence shaped him as a person.

I also liked Cicero’s comment on souls, and that whether it dies with the body or extends through the beyond, Scipio is still present within his friend, as Laelius will always have the memories he shared through their friendship. Throughout this comforting section, one cannot help but wonder if there was more than friendship between these two individuals, but perhaps they were non-romantic soul mates, destined to affect one another through the course of their lives. Regardless of the extent of their love, the expression of friendship, loss, and love in this section is enlightening and immensely sweet.

p-rinda said...

Cicero Journal #1

I had trouble reading through it...couldn't focus. And I guess where I began to start focusing was here:

"What shall I say of the singular affability of his manners, of his filial piety to his mother, of his generosity to his sisters, of his integrity in his relations with all men? How dear he was to the community was shown by the grief at his funeral. What benefit, then, could he have derived from a few more years?"

He describes how great of a person this friend, Scipio, is and how much the community cared about him and the grief they showed at his funeral. Then he asks how living any longer would have benefited him anyway since he obviously had impacted his is filled with fun things to do. He could've benefited from the few extra years by going out and experience something he's never gone through, I don't know. There's a lot to do, how could he not benefit from the few extra years?

Another thing that really stuck out to me was the footnote right after he spoke about Scipio's successful life. It says that he went into his apartment in perfect health, and was found dead on his couch in the morning, and there was a rumor that there were "marks of violence on his neck." His wife had a sister who had opposing views than Scipio's. Other people were accused too. This reminds me of MLK Jr. I don't really know why this made me think of MLK Jr.......the only connection I can think of now is that Scipio and MLK Jr. both were major people who were going to change the community. They helped certain people and were very kind people. They were loved by many people, but there's always the few people out there who just want to shut them up for good. Sad..

Khauser said...