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Extra info for Ambitiosa Mors: Suicide and the Self in Roman Thought and Literature (Studies in Classics)

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Fm Page 28 Monday, June 21, 2004 3:30 PM 28 Suicide and Self in Roman Thought and Literature thus confined to instances where Greek antecedents are either explicitly invoked by our Latin sources, or explication of a Latin text is impossible without reference to a Greek predecessor. There is in addition a certain theoretical justification for keeping discussion of Rome’s Greek heritage to a minimum. In many instances where we are in a position to compare Greek texts with Roman reworkings of these—as we find, for example, with Cicero’s adaptations of passages from Plato’s Phaedo—it is immediately clear that the Latin author has considerably elaborated upon and altered the content and import of his source.

1 More positively, the nature of Cicero’s philosophical project renders his writings uniquely valuable to the central inquiry of this study. In his philosophical works Cicero does much more than transpose an array of Hellenistic texts into Latin. At the opening of the De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (“On the Goals of Good and Evil Action”), his earliest extended work on the Hellenistic schools, Cicero declares that he intends to act not merely as a translator, but that he will relate ea quae dicta sunt ab iis [sc.

The topic arises instead in the course of Cato’s discussion of the Stoic theory of oikeio–sis, a nd is simply intended to illustrate this. Cato’s statements regarding self-killing, then, cannot be understood without reference to this theory, and in particular to the understanding of the self it embodies and implies. The Stoic theory of oikeio–sis, as described by Cato and our other Stoic sources, is essentially a developmental account of the procedure by which humans mature from children, concerned primarily with the satiation of their own desires, into adults, who have the potential to take ethical action as the highest goal of their endeavors.

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