Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Anthon's Cicero,” Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. III, no. 1, January 1837, 3:72


[page 72, column 1, continued:]


Select Orations of Cicero: with an English Commentary, and Historical, Geographical, and Legal Indexes. By Charles Anthon, LL. D. Jay-Professor of Ancient Literature in Columbia College, and Rector of the Grammar School. New York: Harper and Brothers.

Last May, we had occasion to express our high opinion of Professor Anthon's Sallust, and of his literary labors in general. We then said what we have long, thought, and still think, that this gentleman has done more for sound scholarship at home, and for our classical reputation abroad, than any other individual in America. In England he is particularly appreciated. His vast additions to Lempriere are there justly regarded as evincing a nice perception of method, great industry, and extensive as well as accurate erudition. We know that two separate editions of his Sallust have appeared in London from the hands of different editors, and without any effort on the part of the author to procure a republication — this fact speaks plainly of the value set [column 2:] upon the work. His books, too, have been adopted as text-books at Cambridge and Oxford (for which meridian, indeed, they are especially intended) — an honor to be properly understood only by those acquainted with the many high requisites for attaining it.

The present edition of Cicero, the text of which is based upon the work of Ernesti, embraces only the four orations against Catiline, together with those for Archias, Marcellus, the Manilian Law, and Muirenca. The statutes of Columbia College require that the first six of these orations shall be read by candidates for admission into the Freshman Class, and they have accordingly been selected with an eye to this regulation. The orations for the Manilian Laws, and for Murena, “have been added,” says Mr. Anthon, “as favorable 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 undergraduate course.” Without reference to the rules of particular colleges (most of which, however, accord with the institution of New York in regard to the speeches against Catiline and for Archias), it may be assumed that no better selection of Cicero could be made — if the intention be, as it mainly should, to convey the spirit of the orator and of the man. We confess, however, and we believe Professor Anthon will half accord with us in our confession, that we should have been pleased to see the vivacious defence of the dissolute Coelius, and (that last oration of the noble Roman,) the fourteenth of his indignant Philippics against Antony.

The work is gotten up in the same beautiful style as the Sallust. It is a thick duodecimo of 518 pages. Of these, 380 are well occupied with Explanatory Notes; Legal, Geographical, and Historical Indexes. An acute analysis of the life and writings of Cicero fills about 40 pages in the front of the book, and will be recognized as an imitation, in manner, of the Brutus, sive de Claris Oratoribus, of the Latin author under examination.

As a critic and commentator, Professor Anthon must be regarded with the highest consideration. Although still young, he has evinced powers of a nature very unusual in men whose lives, like his own, have been mainly devoted to the hortus siccus of classical erudition. The simplicity and perfect obviousness of most of the readings wherein he has differed from commentators of the first celebrity, entitle to him respect as the philosopher, no less than as the philologist. He has dared to throw aside the pedant, and look en homme du monde upon some of the most valued of the literary monuments of antiquity. In this way he has given the world evidence of a comprehensive as well as of an acute and original understanding, and thus the abundant notes to his editions of the Latin classics will do him lasting honor among all who are qualified to give an opinion of his labors, or whose good word and will he would be likely to consider as worth having.


Mr. Poe's attention being called in another direction, he will decline, with the present number, the Editorial duties of the Messenger. His Critical Notices for this month end with Professor Anton's Cicero; what follows is from another hand. With the best wishes to the Magazine, and to its few foes as well as many friends, he is now desirous of bidding all parties a peaceable farewell.




The “farewell” is similar to the one used at the close of the Broadway Journal in 1846.


[S:0 - SLM, 1837] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Critical Notices (January 1837)