So Choose Your Words Carefully

Cicero, born in the century before Christ, exercised his techniques when republican Rome, in all its vigor, welcomed public men. Augustine loved Cicero, as did the whole Latin world, which placed the Roman orator just below Virgil on the divinity charts. (Jerome, the cantankerous translator of the Latin Bible, awoke one night in a frenzied sweat: he had dreamed that Christ had condemned him to hell for being more of a Ciceronian than a Christian.) The ancients held the practical use of words in much higher regard than we do, probably because they were much closer to the oral customs of prehistoric village life – so clearly reflected in Nestor’s speech to the Greek chieftains in the Iliad and in Mark Antony’s speech over Julius Caesar’s body – in which the fate of an entire race may hang on one man’s words.

Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization, p. 47

Photo by Eugeniya Belova on Unsplash

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