Cicero : The Philosophy of a Roman Sceptic book cover
1st Edition

The Philosophy of a Roman Sceptic

ISBN 9781844658411
Published February 25, 2015 by Routledge
268 Pages

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Book Description

Cicero’s philosophical works introduced Latin audiences to the ideas of the Stoics, Epicureans and other schools and figures of the post-Aristotelian period, thus influencing the transmission of those ideas through later history. While Cicero’s value as documentary evidence for the Hellenistic schools is unquestioned, Cicero: The Philosophy of a Roman Sceptic explores his writings as works of philosophy that do more than simply synthesize the thought of others, but instead offer a unique viewpoint of their own. In this volume Raphael Woolf describes and evaluates Cicero’s philosophical achievements, paying particular attention to his relation to those philosophers he draws upon in his works, his Romanizing of Greek philosophy, and his own sceptical and dialectical outlook. The volume aims, using the best tools of philosophical, philological and historical analysis, to do Cicero justice as a distinctive philosophical voice.

Situating Cicero’s work in its historical and political context, this volume provides a detailed analysis of the thought of one of the finest orators and writers of the Roman period. Written in an accessible and engaging style, Cicero: The Philosophy of a Roman Sceptic is a key resource for those interested in Cicero’s role in shaping Classical philosophy.

Table of Contents



Some notable dates

1. Introduction: Cicero and Philosophy

2. Scepticism and Certainty

3. God, Fate and Freedom

3.1. On the Nature of the Gods

3.2. On Divination

3.3. On Fate

4. The Best Form of Government

4.1. The Republic

4.2. The Laws

5. The Good Life in Theory and Practice

5.1. On Ends

5.2. On Duties

6. The Role of the Emotions

Suggestions for further reading

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Raphael Woolf is Reader in Philosophy at King's College London. His work focuses on ancient philosophy and he has published on Plato, Aristotle and Hellenistic philosophy.


"Woolf offers a careful reading of Cicero's philosophical works. Unlike most similar texts, which approach Cicero primarily as a documentary source for ancient philosophy, Woolf focuses on articulating and evaluating Cicero's own philosophical positions. Overall, this book provides an excellent introduction to Cicero's philosophy. Summing Up: Recommended." - B. T. Harding, Texas Woman's University, CHOICE Review

"Cicero may not always have dotted his i's and crossed his t's, but this did not prevent him from writing significant and inspiring philosophy. Woolf's important and enjoyable book shows us just how good he was at it." - Katharina Volk, Columbia University, BMCR

"Woolf makes a concerted effort to convey the content of Cicero’s works to a readership who have not necessarily read any of the primary texts, let alone the scholarly literature, and he does this summative work very effectively (and with very little off-putting textual work on the Latin)...Woolf writes as a philosopher for philosophers. He expounds and analyses the philosophical arguments that Cicero presents, assessing their cogency and plausibility." - Sean McConnell, University of Otag