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Cicero: Brutus and Orator

Robert A. Kaster

Publication Date - 20 February 2020

ISBN: 9780190857851

328 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock


Cicero's Brutus and Orator constitute his final major statements on the history of Roman oratory and the nature of the ideal orator. In the Brutus he traces the development of political and judicial speech over the span of 150 years, from the early second century to 46 BCE, when both of these treatises were written. In an immensely detailed account of some 200 speakers from the past he dispenses an expert's praise and criticism, provides an unparalleled resource for the study of Roman rhetoric, and engages delicately with the fraught political circumstances of the day, when the dominance of Julius Caesar was assured and the future of Rome's political institutions was thrown into question. The Orator written several months later, describes the form of oratory that Cicero most admired, even though he insists that neither he nor any other orator has been able to achieve it. At the same time, he defends his views against critics — the so-called Atticists — who found Cicero's style overwrought.

In this volume, the first English translation of both works in more than eighty years, Robert Kaster provides faithful and eminently readable renderings, along with a detailed introduction that places the works in their historical and cultural context and explains the key stylistic concepts and terminology that Cicero uses in his analyses. Extensive notes accompany the translations, helping readers at every step contend with unfamiliar names, terms, and concepts from Roman culture and history.


  • The first new English translation of both works in over 80 years.
  • A detailed introduction places the works in their historical and cultural context, brings to the fore the issues that readers should keep before them as they read the works, and explains the key stylistic concepts and terminology that Cicero uses in his analyses.
  • Extensive notes accompany the translations, helping readers at every step contend with unfamiliar names, terms, and concepts from Roman culture and history.

About the Author(s)

Robert A. Kaster is Professor of Classics, emeritus, and Kennedy Foundation Professor of Latin Language and Literature, emeritus, at Princeton University.


"Whether one is reading these essays for the first time or is a seasoned reader of Cicero's works, this volume will deliver new insights into the history and theory of Roman oratory." -- Kathryn Tempest, The Classical Review

"This excellent translation...captures Cicero's register in accessible English and provides the critical apparatus necessary to introduce the works and their milieu to a new generation of students. [Kaster] does so judiciously, avoiding history and topics covered adequately elsewhere, concentrating instead on the introduction, annotations, biographical sketches, glossary, and appendixes necessary for the texts at hand. The result is an edition that professors will find useful for the classroom and their own studies, and students will find invaluable for introducing them to Cicero's mature views on orators and oratory in general.... Cicero's pen fell silent long ago, but today one may benefit from what he has to say thanks to the exemplary work of scholars like Kaster. Summing Up: Essential." -- CHOICE

"Kaster's lengthy introduction ably lays out the historical and technical contexts necessary for understanding these two works. It, along with the extensive notes on every page, biographical sketches, and a glossary, are geared towards capable nonspecialists who may not have a command of Latin. This is a real service to scholars and students alike, not just to specialists of Cicero or Roman rhetoric. The book will undoubtedly serve not only those needing a reliable translation for research, but teachers and their students needing a capable overview of two essential, and in various ways neglected, rhetorical works of the Ciceronian corpus. Kaster's efforts are all but certain to diminish that general neglect... Kaster's new translation with commentary will remind a generation of scholars and non-specialists that these sophisticated works merit further study." -- Christopher S. Van Den Berg, Recensioni - Comptes Rednus

"Kaster is predictably punctilious on textual matters, and offers a superb introductory essay" -- Christopher Whitton, Greece & Rome

"Kaster's edition of the Brutus and the Orator is a superb and much needed volume which offers rich and eloquent translations, as well as comprehensive introductory material, appendices, and annotations. I can envision assigning this text to undergraduates or graduate students in a classical rhetoric or Cicero course, regardless of students' knowledge of ancient languages or their familiarity with the treatises themselves... I find this volume of great value and strongly recommend it for those interested in Cicero's later rhetorical contributions, from the layperson to the specialist." -- Bess R. H. Myers, University of Memphis, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"In this pair of essays written three years before his death, Cicero composed a fascinating valediction for Roman oratory. His understanding of the qualities that had made it great and his chagrin at having witnessed its decline are perfectly captured in these lucid translations by Robert Kaster." -- Peter White, University of Chicago

"Robert Kaster's new translation of Cicero's Brutus and Orator is a delight to read, and his superb introduction and notes make these important works on the history and theory of oratory accessible to the broad audience they deserve. They are among Cicero's most brilliant works, and Kaster's edition is a masterpiece itself." -- James E. G. Zetzel, Columbia University

Table of Contents


    1. Times of War and Silence (51-46 bce)
    2. Brutus
    3. Orator
    4. Outlines of Brutus and Orator
    5. Translation, Notes, Text
    6. Further Reading

    Ancient Authors and Works Cited



    Biographical Sketches
    Glossary of Roman Political Terms
    Appendix A: On the Best Kind of Orator
    Appendix B: Variant Readings