Cicero – The Catalyst of the Renaissance

Ben's Journal

“To be considered truly ‘Enlightened’, one must look for deeper meaning in every writing and find the subtle messages that transcend the rhetoric” – Anonymous

Dearest Coffeehouse Collective,

There was a time in the course of human history where the Founders were not the source of all inspiration. Before our time, we were “learners” who leaned on other sources for guidance. We planted our foundations in the Classics. These philosophers taught us that a “government by the people” was only practical IF the people were virtuous. YOU see, there is nothing more beautiful than Virtue. The base principles, upon which our civilization was built, ARE conceived from these exceptional men of ENLIGHTENED thought. None of those Pillars of Wisdom stood taller than the great orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero, whose rediscovered letters initiated the Renaissance. Fortunately, I have been able to REMEMBER my notes from my youth as an apprentice, spending nights reading my books and creating aphorisms to every story, like a new Aesop. Here it is in partial form:

“Marcus Tullius, of the family Cicero (Latin for “disgusting”), had learned to embrace his horrid name as motivation. After all, if you appreciate your name, then others will do so. He vowed to make his a name synonymous with honor. As early as he was capable, CICERO was SAID to have distinguish himself in the schools for having the keen understanding to be eager in every kind of learning. Cicero labored in his studies (as he would later claim, “you reap what you sow”) and diversified his intellectual specialties. Ambitious TO BE a communicator, he focused on poetry for oratorical training, because to excel at communication, one must excel at poetry; but expect little greatness from poetry alone. He studied Latin as well as other languages for there is no greater sign of intelligence than to be able to call someone “stupid” in 6 languages or more.

Cicero traveled to Athens and physically exercised to develop stamina having been told to take care of your body for it is the vessel of all your ambitions fulfilled. He continued to study and learn the “Way To Glory”. In order to achieve this “Way” you must make your own Genius be the guide of your life, not the opinion of the people for they are IGNORANT and do not make tough choices. The “Man OF Glory” must still communicate, however, and use sarcasm and witty sayings to appeal to people – in moderation. This approach, however, is WHAT makes enemies. But in the end, if he inevitably must have an enemy, he knew he should choose a loudmouth for those who speak loudly have nothing to say. As a good politician, he knew of many moments when this fact has OCCURRED. After all, a good tradesman knows his every tool, and a good politician knows his every fool, in order to use them appropriately in a given situation. BEFORE Cicero left, he learned ONE more piece of wisdom: “glory” is an infinite thing with no fixed measure or end in its pursuit. He realized he WAS unable to ever completely satisfy his quest for glory, and would need to temper his ambitious thoughts – or at least attempt to.

Cicero’s political career was BORN and he proved these early scholarly truisms to be valuable. He became a well-respected statesman (and still IS), quoted often for his fair judgments, eloquent oratory, and witty sayings. Thus he became a Consul in time TO overthrow a conspiracy to the Roman Republic by Lucius Catilina. Catilina took advantage of the fact that the common decay of societies are shows, entertainment, and ambition of higher offices (Note: this pattern continues to REMAIN since as long as men have been men, they have been debaucherous in spirit). The unequal distribution of wealth led to instability and tension amongst the population. Angry veterans and aristocrats attempted to overthrow the Republic and assassinate Cicero.

Cicero was informed of the plot. Knowing that to govern, one ALWAYS should prefer honesty above what’s popular (because justice is invincible when well-spoken), Cicero attacked Catiline in several speeches to the Senate and the people. This move threatened Catiline and emboldened the Roman people to support Cicero. Catiline and his followers fled and Cicero was able to acquire proof of the conspiracy through their letters, proving that loudmouths make the best enemies. Knowing it was better to be thought too harsh than too weak, Cicero had the conspirators executed. Thus he saved the Roman Republic for A time, being hailed as a glorious figure in the process. What would eventually lead to his downfall was a CHILD named Caesar and two lessons Cicero had yet to fully learn and understand: in politics, friendships are only friendships if they are mutually beneficial; and, never trust a Caesar.

Until Next Time!

Your B.F.,


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