Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson
Thus oratorical authorship emancipated from politics was naturalized in the Roman literary world by Cicero. We have already had occasion several times to mention this many-sided man. As a statesman without insight, idea, or purpose, he figured successively as democrat, as aristocrat, and as a tool of the monarchs, and was never more than a short-sighted egotist. Where he exhibited the semblance of action, the questions to which his action applied had, as a rule, just reached their solution; thus he came forward in the trial of Verres against the senatorial courts when they were already set aside; thus he was silent at the discussion on the Gabinian, and acted as a champion of the Manilian, law; thus he thundered against Catilina when his departure was already settled, and so forth.
He was valiant in opposition to sham attacks, and he knocked down many walls of pasteboard with a loud din; no serious matter was ever, either in good or evil, decided by him, and the execution of the Catilinarians in particular was far more due to his acquiescence than to his instigation. In a literary point of view we have already noticed that he was the creator of the modern Latin prose;(34) his importance rests on his mastery of style, and it is only as a stylist that he shows confidence in himself.
34. Cf. V. XII. The New Roman Poetry
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