Saturday, March 17, 2007

Cicero on the nature of graduate studies

Cicero is referring here to training in oratory, which was the Roman equivalent of going for a professional degree. If you wanted to take your place in and make your mark upon Roman society (upper-class male variety, of course), you had to learn to persuade groups of people; you had to study oratory. I think the parallel is obvious.

Pro Caelio sec. 19/46

"An vos aliam causam esse ullam putatis cur in tantis praemiis eloquentiae, tanta voluptate dicendi, tanta laude, tanta gratia, tanto honore, tam sint pauci semperque fuerint qui in hoc labore versentur? Obterendae sunt omnes voluptates, relinquenda studia delectationis, ludus, iocus, convivium, sermo paene est familiarum deserendus. Qua re in hoc genere labor offendit homines a studioque deterret, non quo aut ingenia deficiant aut doctrina puerilis."

"Or do you suppose, in the face of such rewards for eloquence, such pleasure in speaking, such praise, such favor, such honor, that there is some other reason why why there are and always have been so few who turn themselves toward this endeavor? All pleasures must be obliterated; all pursuit of enjoyment left behind; games, jokes, bonhomie, nearly all conversation with friends must be forsaken. It is for this reason that this sort of endeavor is offensive to people and turns them away from its pursuit, and not because the youth are lacking in either ability or prliminary education."

Think on this as you apply for grad school.


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