BMCR 2011.04.19

Cicero: Pro Caelio. Focus Classical Commentary

, , Cicero: Pro Caelio. Focus Classical Commentary. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing, 2010. viii, 123. ISBN 9781585101382 $19.95 (pb).

This volume contains an annotated text of Cicero’s speech Pro Caelio, aiming to serve as a reading-book for “students in advanced High-School and intermediate College Latin classes” (p. VII). Its structure is quite similar to Ciraolo’s Cicero pro Caelio (a work, as the authors declare on p. VII, which has been extensively used for the preparation of this volume, as well as Austin’s and Englert’s commentaries).1 After a short “Preface” (pp. VII-VIII) comes an “Introduction”, dealing with “The life of Cicero” (pp. 1-4), “Clodia Metelli” (p. 8), “Stylistic devices” (p. 9- 11), and, finally, “Dramatis personae” (p. 15).Then follows the text of the speech, divided into sections, with the notes and the commentary arranged at the bottom of the page (pp. 15-88). A selection of the letters of Cicero and Caelius (Cic. Fam. 2,8. 2,10. 2,11. 8,11,3-4. 2,12. 8,14. 8,16. 2,16. 8,17) is also offered (pp. 89-106), as well as an “Appendix”, containing selections from the “lost speech” ( sic)2 In Clodium et Curionem (frg. 19, 20 and 23: pp. 107-108). A “Select bibliography” (109-112) and a “Vocabulary” close the book.

The “Introduction” gives enough basic information for students who know nothing about Cicero. It fails nevertheless on a capital point: it does not deal with the main argumentative feature of this speech, the well known Ciceronian strategy of splitting the accusation into many pieces without a clear connection in order to rebut the arguments of the plaintiff (the removere).3

Regarding Cicero’s text, the authors state (p. VII) that they have used “the text of R. G. Austin with a few emendations”. One would expect here or in the bibliography a reference to Maslowski’s recent and authoritative edition of this speech (Leipzig, Teubner, 1995).4 However, given the character of this volume, I think that it is not worth discussing textual criticism since the only purpose of the book is to provide the students with a tool for reading and understanding Cicero’s Pro Caelio in its original Latin, and the authors try to achieve this goal mainly with the notes, divided in two sections, “Vocabulary” and “Commentary”. In the “Vocabulary” notes, the authors have indulged in all sort of basic explanations about morphology, syntax and meaning. We can take as an example §19 quam ob rem illa quae ex accusatorum oratione premuniri iam et fingi intelligebam, a phrase which is elucidated by the authors with no less that three remarks: “ quam ob rem : therefore. Illa : direct object of pertimesco. Praemuniri … fingi : invented and built up in advance”. Even if I do not doubt Keitel’s and Crawford’s diligence in explaining to students all sorts of grammatical and lexical trifles, I nevertheless fear that pupils who cannot work out for themselves that attulisse comes form affero and tam – quam means “as – as” (p. 63) should not try to read Cicero in Latin. At any rate, given that such methods of teaching Latin are quite widespread, this book can well fulfill its requirements, offering a good amount of clear and concise information to the beginners.

The bibliography “which contains all works referred in the introduction, or the text, plus some standard works on Cicero, the history of rhetoric and Roman history” (p. 109), should perhaps have been better arranged into two sections, “Bibliographical References” and “Further reading”, the latter being divided thematically. Surprisingly enough, this bibliography only contains books and papers written in English. Since this list of works gives the appearance of having been conceived not only for students, but also for teachers, it seems not quite justifiable to have omitted foreign scholarship on Cicero’s Pro Celio. For instance, the authors have not quoted two important works which should be read (although in German) by anyone who intends to teach this speech: I mean Drexler’s and Heinze’s fundamental articles on the subject.5

I am sure that Keitel’s and Crawford’s primer on Cicero’s Pro Caelio will deserve attention among those who intend to teach or learn Latin directly in the original texts.


1. S. Ciarolo, Cicero Pro Caelio, Waukonda, Bolchazy-Carducci, 2003 3; R. G. Austin, M. Tulli Ciceronis Pro Celio oratio, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1960 3; W. Englert, Cicero Pro Caelio, Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr College, 1990.

2. Cf. p. 107: “The following are fragments from a lost speech, In Clodium et Curionem. The authors should have said “fragmentary” for “lost”.

3. Cf. Cic. Brut. 190, Orat. 130. On this point, see H. Drexler, “Zu Ciceros Rede Pro Caelio ”, Nachrichten von der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, Phil.- Hist. Klasse, 1944, pp. 1-32 (mainly, p. 24 ); C. J. Classen, “Ciceros Rede für Caelius”, ANRW I.3, pp. 60-94 (see pp. 65-66).

4. Absent from the list of editions and commentaries of the Pro Caelio is a work that still deserves attention: J. Van Wageningen, M. Tulli Ciceronis Oratio pro M. Caelio, Groningen 1908.

5. R. Heinze, “Cicero’s Rede Pro Caelio ”, Hermes 60 (1925), pp. 192-258. Dexler’s work is quoted in n. 3.