AUGUSTINE AND THE HORTENSIUS OF CICERO. By JOHN HAMMOND TAYLOR, S. J.. St. Augustine, in his student days at Carthage, as every reader. The Hortensius was a ‘protreptic’ dialogue written by Cicero. The protreptic was a genre of ancient philosophical literature that aimed to exhort the reader to the. One of the most extensive resources on the internet for the study of early Christianity. “Augustine on how he was influenced by reading Cicero’s Hortensius”.

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The work had followed the conventional form of a protreptic[1] and taught that genuine human happiness is to be found by using and embracing philosophy. This meeting cicrro place in Lucullus’ villa. While the dialogue was extremely popular in the ancient world, [3] the dialogue only survived into the sixth century AD.

Out of the four, Augustine preserved the largest portion of text, although the work is still considered lost.

This meant Caesar was functioning as a de facto king, much to Cicero’s chagrin. Personally, Cicero had completed his divorce with Terentia in 51 BC. cicerk

In addition, Cicero’s daughter, Tulliawhom he loved greatly, [8] suddenly became ill and died during the month of February in the year of 45 BC. Due to these hortensijs, Cicero isolated himself in his villa at Asturawhere he composed several works.

The Hortensius was modeled on Greek protreptic literature and takes the form of a dialogue.

Hortensius | work by Cicero |

Sheed, in the work, “Cicero attempts to persuade Quintus Hortensius Hortalus The dialogue takes place at villa of Lucius Licinius Lucullusbetween 65 and 60 BC, during hortensiua unnamed feriae — an ancient Roman holiday. In the dialogue, Quintus Lutatius Catulus admires the art in Lucullus’ home, while Quintus Hortensius praises the skill behind the art.


The discussion quickly becomes one about otium Latin for leisure. Hortensius posits that the visual arts are suitable for such a usage of free time. Catulus, for the same reasons, begins to laud literature, especially tragedy and comedy.

Lucullus interjects and promotes attending lectures and studying history as better use of otium.


Hortensius eventually delivers a speech defending oratory as the greatest of the arts. Catullus responds by reminding him of the boons philosophy grants. Then, the character of Cicero chimes in to prove that philosophy is single-handedly the best of all the aforementioned skills. Thus, each of the four speakers defends a different branch of study: Catullus defends poetry, Lucullus argues in favor of history, the eponymous Hortensius defends rhetoric, and Cicero himself praises the virtues of philosophy.

Conventionally, it is held that in order to spread the wealth of Greek philosophy among the leading citizens of Rome, Cicero adapted and expanded upon Aristotle’s Protrepticus. The work inspired its readers to appreciate a philosophical approach to life. The German philologist Jakob Bernays was the first scholar to suggest that Aristotle ‘s Protrepticus inspired Cicero to write the Hortensius.

In addition, using Bywater and Usener, the German philologist Hermann Alexander Diels found a fragment of Hortensius in the Soliloquies of Augustine connecting the section to a fragment of the Protrepticus in order to strengthen the argument that Cicero did depend upon Aristotle.

Even though the dialogue had been incredibly renowned and popular in antiquity, [3] it is probable the work only survived until the sixth century AD.

AugustineBoethius[22] Lactantius were influenced by the work. Others have theorized that both Seneca and Tacitus were also influenced by it. Of the four, Nonius Marcellus and Augustine preserve the most, although the lines preserved by Nonius Marcellus have been called “extremely brief and very difficult to place in a context”. At the age of 19, [25] he read the Hortensius there.


He later wrote in Confessions that it left a lasting impression on him and moved him to embrace philosophy. There have been several works of scholarship regarding Cicero’s Hortensius. Inthe first standard critical edition of the fragments was the Teubner edition of Cicero Pt. IIIedited by C.

InOtto Plasberg wrote a dissertation on the fragments. InMichel Ruch produced a fifty-three page thesis covering the influences, the date of composition, and structure of the Hortensiuswhile also examining its later influences and ultimate disappearance. In addition, the work reorganizes the fragments and provides each one with a French translation and commentary. And who endowed with reason would not prefer a state free from the pleasure given us by nature?

The cover the Teubner edition of Cicero’s complete works.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved December 21, This was Cicerop. Aristotle’s Protrepticus and the Sources of its Reconstruction. University of California Press, Review of L’Hortensius De Ciceron: The American Journal of Philology ccicero 1. Johns Hopkins University Press: Personal life Political career Writings. Cicero’s exhortation was the advice ‘not to study one particular sect but to love and seek and pursue and hold fast and strongly embrace wisdom itself, wherever found.

Marcus Tullius [Cicero] in the Hortensius: If one reads Aristotle, a great effort of mind is required to undo his complexities.

Hortensius (Cicero)

The book changed my feelings. It altered my prayers, Lord, to be towards yourself. It gave me different values and priorities.

Augustine on Hortensius [2]. Political De Imperio Cn.