Life of Cicero, The ~ Volume 1

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Introduction by Enoch Powell

419 pages with appendices, (vol 1)

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One of Trollope’s fiercest desires was to expunge his dismal academic record. The Life of Cicero was in some ways an attempt to remake himself as a classicist, an ‘opus magnum for my old age’. His intention here is to reclaim Cicero’s reputation from the clutch of Victorian historians whom he saw as venerating Caesar at the expense of Cicero.

He traces Cicero’s career as a student, a lawyer, a solider and politician, as well as his private life, and he does so in a narrative that is warm and witty. But Trollope remains throughout a cool observer, and – as he so often did in his novels – he brings up the eternal moral question of how to shape a course of action through an engaged public life wherein the decisions are not easy, and right and wrong are not immediately apparent. This view of Cicero, somewhat unorthodox and unpopular at the time, has increasingly become the accepted line. R H Super called the book Trollope’s ‘genuine masterpiece.’