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THE present edition of Cicero contains the four orations against Catiline, together with those for Archias, Marcellus, the Manilian Law, and Murena. In making this selection, the editor has been guided by the statutes of Columbia College, which require all the orations that have just been enumerated, with the exception of the last two, to be read by candidates for admission into the Freshman Class. As the statutes of other colleges differ, in this respect, but little from our own, and as the orations against Catiline are almost universally read, it is hoped that the work here presented to the public will prove a useful auxiliary to the youth of our country in general. The orations for the Manilian Law and for Murena have been added as favourable specimens of Cicero's more elaborate
style of eloquence, especially the latter; and they may, it is conceived, be read with advantage at the beginning of an under-graduate course.
In forming the text of the present work, the editor has taken Ernesti's for his basis, but without any slavish adherence to the opinions and decisions of that distinguished commentator. Wherever a reading presented itself, calculated in the editor's opinion to throw more light on the meaning of Cicero than the received lection could impart, he has not hesitated to adopt it; and he flatters himself that the result of his labours, in this department, will prove acceptable to all who are qualified to pass an opinion upon his efforts.
The commentary, it will be perceived, is far from being a scanty one. If there be any author that stands in need of full and copious illustration, it un doubtedly is Cicero in the orations which have come down to us. The train of thought must be continually laid open to the young scholar, to enable him to appreciate, in their full force and beauty, these brilliant memorials of other days; and the allusions, in which the orator is so fond of indulging, must be
carefully and fully explained. Unless this be done, the speeches of Cicero become a dead letter, and time is only wasted in their perusal.
The editor is induced to make these remarks, from the conviction, that the system of commenting, which he has pursued throughout the present work, will, as in the case of his previous efforts, be condemned by some on the ground of its affording too much aid to the learner. The truth is, however, the editor had no alternative left him. If there be any one cause, which has tended more powerfully than the rest to bring classical studies into disrepute among us, it is the utter incompetency of many of those who profess to be classical instructers. It is very natural that such preceptors should be strongly averse to bestowing too much assistance upon their pupils; and perhaps it is lucky for the latter that such a state of things should exist; but certainly, for the credit of our common country, it is high time that some change should be effected, and that if the learner cannot obtain from oral instruction the information which ought to be afforded him, he may procure it at least from the notes of his text-book. We may be very sure of one thing, that the style of classical
instruction which prevails at the present day in so many of our colleges and seminaries of learning, of translating merely the language of an ancient author, without any attempts whatever at illustration or analysis, will never produce any fruits either of sound learning or intellectual improvement.