Cicero and Roman Civic Education



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This thesis argues that Cicero equates civic education for Roman public statesmen with a moral education in Roman virtue, where the statesman learns the virtues of courage, prudence, and total dedication to his city, that lend to both proper and effective governance. Civic education, for Cicero, has two main components: learning by imitating exempla of Roman virtue, and acquiring universal knowledge by studying academic disciplines from philosophy and civil law to poetry, history, and music. However, Cicero never compiles his philosophy on education clearly or schematically into a single philosophical work, but rather he provides pieces of his philosophy of education over the course of several distinct works, each of which were written to address distinct Roman political climates. For this reason, this thesis contextualizes Cicero's philosophy of education in the respective political climates in which he wrote each of these works to understand how Cicero's conception of education addresses enduring political problems in Roman politics, especially regarding the disruption of the traditional Roman political order. I will also note a shift in Cicero's philosophy of education from De Oratore to De Officiis, as the former nowhere indicates that philosophy teaches virtue and the latter begins with the premise that philosophy teaches virtue.