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date: 26 February 2020

Cicero, Marcus Tulliuslocked

  • Warren Anderson
  • , revised by Thomas J. Mathiesen


(b Arpinum [now Arpino], Jan 3, 106 bce; d Caieta [now Gaeta], Dec 7, 43 bce). Roman statesman, orator and man of letters. The hundreds of references to music in his writings (see Wille, 1967) include no comprehensive statement of theory; individual passages show that his usual eclecticism prevailed here as well. The Epicurean condemnation of music and of late Stoic musical theory by a philosopher well known to him personally, Philodemus of Gadara, influenced his thinking; nevertheless, he occasionally used Platonic and Stoic doctrines. He accepted the view of Democritus and Epicurus that music is one of the fine arts, not a pursuit necessary for life (Tusculan Disputations, i.25.62); at the same time, the musical culture of Hellenic Greece seemed to him admirable (ibid., i.2.4).

Cicero's orations usually referred to the place of music in private life and for forensic purposes treated it as a sign of dissolute tendencies; but his treatises on rhetoric show a lively awareness of the rhythmic and melodic elements that entered into oratorical technique. The influence of Cicero's oratorical theory is most directly seen in the ...

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Journal of the American Musicological Society