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Classical Interviews: Cicero (In Latin!)

Ancient World

Classical Interviews: Cicero (In Latin!)

Bust of Cicero


By André Bastos Gurgel, OAB

Q: Ave, Marce. Mihi gaudio est te nos recipere posse. Te valde admiramur, qui Latinam linguam discimus, et omnia opera tua. “O fortunatam natam te consule Romam!” Quid dicere potes de tuis operibus iuris?

(Hail, Marcus. Thanks for receiving us. People who study Latin admire you and your
work very much. Rome is fortunate for having such a consul. What can you tell us about your work as a lawyer?)

A: Magno gaudio est mihi, quoniam semper dico iurem esse artem boni et aequi. Labor Iustitiae enim suavis est. Aliquando lassus sum de rebus advocatorum: proelia magna cum judicibus vesanis pugno! Olim, ut Horatius dixit, fugere urbem volo, vites habere et apes melliferas colere. Villam emere in Campania, et de politica et philosophia in mea senectute scribere. Etiam volo scribere librum de Arte Oratoria.

(I must say, I truly enjoy it. Law is the art of the good and of the just. However, off the record, there are times when I get a bit tired of itI always have youble with crazy judges! One day, as Horace would put it, I hope to flee the city, plant vine trees and raise bees. I would like to buy a house in the country and spend my last days recording my views on politics and philosophy. I also hope to write more about ars oratoria.)


Q: Ita fiat. Estne orator quem admiraris?

(They certainly will! Is there another orator that you admire?)

A: Demosthenen, maxime. Graeci enim magistri in arte oratoria fuerunt. Culturam illorum magnopere diligo. Aliqui romani dicunt me esse “graecum in toga”. [Cicero ridet.] Demosthenes optimus oratorum fuit, sed scepticus sum de historia calculorum in ore illius. Aliqui collegae mei id fecerunt et accidentes habuerunt! Mehercle, nesciebam calculos tantum volare posse! Catonem Censorium etiam valde admiror. Si vis, tibi nunc recitabo orationem illius: “Delenda Carthago…”

(I admire Demosthenes tremendously. The Greeks were the first to develop ars oratoria. That’s one of the reasons I admire their culture so much. In fact, Roman nationalists sometimes criticise me, saying I’m like a Greek in a toga! Demosthenes was one of the best orators in Greece, although I’m a little skeptical of the tale about the pebbles he put in his mouth. Some of my lawyer colleagues tried this and had some serious accidents! I ddin’t know pebbles could fly so far!…I also admire Cato the Elder. If you want, I can recite something for you: “Delenda Carthago…”)


Q: Siste, Marce! Audire velim sed tempus fugit. Quid facias in diebus venturis?

(Wait, Marce! As much as I would love to hear it, we don’t have much time. Could you tell me what your plans for the future are?)

A: Carmina scribere volo, sed amici mei illa minime diligunt. Illi semper mihi dicunt me esse meliorem oratorem et philosophum. Sed puto posteritatem magnopere dilecturam esse carmina mea. Meum carmen sola triginta milia versuum habet. Scio te velle properare, sed certe id audire vis. [Cicero inspirat.]

(I’m looking forward to publishing some poetry. Still, I showed some of my pieces to my best friends and they didn’t like them at all! I have a feeling people in the future will love my poetry. If you want, I can recite my latest piece. I know you’re in a hurry, but it’s only thirty thousand verses long!)


Q: Certe carmen tuum mirabile, sed necesse nobis colloquio procedere est. Quae lis tibi memorabilissima?

(I am sure your poem is splendid, but let’s please continue the interview. What was your most memorable case as a lawyer?)

A: Nunquam obliviscar litis contra gubernatorem Siciliae, Verrem. Ea lis me iuris consultum clarum fecit. Etiam…oratio mea in Catilinam, perduellem et superbum virum. Sed nemo mortem meret, et si ille notabat et designabat oculis ad caedem unum quemque nostrum. Forsitan mirabile vobis, sed puto supplicium capitale non esse justum populo Romano. Barbari non sumus! Sed Catilina valde patientia nostra abusus est. Quis dicere potest quantam ruinam ille, vivus, faciat?

(I’ll never forget the day I prosecuted Verres, the governor of Sicily. That was the case that made me famous. And then there was my speech against Catiline the traitor. But I don’t think anyone deserves death. It may sound weird, but I’m not in favor of the death penalty. It’s something for the barbarians, not for Romans! On the other hand, Catiline abused our patience for a long time! Who knows what other mischief he might have gotten up to.)


Q: Quid putas de Julio Caesare? Bonusne dictator?

(What do you think about Julius Caesar? Was he a good dictator?)

A: Olim Caesarem admiratus sum, et mirabilis fuit pax cum nostris hostibus veteribus, Gallicis, quam ille fecit. Sed valde mihi doluit caedes in Alesia. Semper inquam “arma cedant togae,” et maxime mihi paenitent Romani ubique occidentes. Sed Caesar minime consentit mecum, et multam pecuniam Caesar erogat bellandi causa. Ille enim vorax divitiis et dominio et, horribile dictu, forsan se imperatorem nominare Caesar audere potest. Scio infestum esse mihi eum opponere, sed perire malo quam Rem Publicam Romae perditam videre. Dulce est pro patria mori. Certe dicam in fine “morior in patria saepe servata”.

(I once admired Caesar, and I appreciate how he pacified our old enemies, the Gauls. But I wish he hadn’t killed so many people in Alesia. I often like to say “arma cedant togae”, and it pains me to see Rome commit so much bloodshed. Caesar, however, doesn’t agree with me. He’s been spending loads of taxpayer money on campaigns. In fact, I’m worried he’s become addicted to power and may even proclaim himself emperor. I realize openly opposing Caesar is trouble, but I would rather die than see Rome lose its status as a republic. To save Rome I would gladly offer my head to the executioner and say “morior in patria saepe servata”.)


Q: Habesne nuntium gentibus futuris?

(What message would you like to leave for posterity?)

A: Velim me esse magnum auctorem Latinitatis in posteritate viventem. Spero posteros opera mea diligenter discere et iuris consultos futuros exemplum meum aemulari, et lectores avidos esse. Adeo, iuris consultus qui omnia de iuribus scit sed nulla de rebus humanioribus vir ignarus est.

(I would like to be immortalized as a great Latin writer. I hope people in the future will study my work with diligence and that lawyers will follow my example, becoming avid learners. After all, a lawyer who knows everything about law and nothing about other subjects is still an ignoramus.)


André Bastos Gurgel
André Bastos Gurgel, OAB (Order of Attorneys of Brazil), Academic Advisor for the Carmenta Online Latin School, is a life-long student of both modern and ancient languages. Mr. Gurgel is fluent in English, Portuguese, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Latin (the last of which he learned with Carmenta) and has a working knowledge of Danish, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit. Mr. Gurgel is currently studying Old English through Carmenta as well.

Click here to read Mr. Gurgel’s full profile.



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