Review: Paoli's Ciceronis filius

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Carolus Raeticus
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Review: Paoli's Ciceronis filius

Post by Carolus Raeticus » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:12 am


Last weekend I finished reading Ciceronis filius by U.E Paoli (PDF, 8 MB). Thinking that it is worth reading if someone is learning Latin, I decided to write a short review.

The sub-title gives a good impression of what it is about: puerilis narratio ad domesticos Romanorum mores illustrandos in usum scholarum redacta. However, this is also a bit misleading. Contrary to other Latin readers, especially those geared towards absolute beginners (e.g. Reed's Julia or Fay's Carolus et Maria), it is not "puerile". The book (91 pages of actual text with many pictures) instead uses the story of Cicero's son to illustrate Roman life. The story providing the framework begins with the birth of Cicero's son and ends with the death of his father, drawing an often quite critical (but not entirely damning) picture of the father. Filling out the framework are passages covering many aspects of Roman life (the material world, customs). The most important ones:
  • Birth and customs associated with it
  • Names
  • House (also about the insulae)
  • Nuptials
  • Feasts, Eating, Kitchen (including utensils)
  • Children's games
  • School (and utensils)
  • Medicine
  • Furniture: beds and tables
  • Mail service
  • Funerals
  • Villa rustica
  • Travel (and carts)
  • War (trated only very briefly)
  • Clothes, hats, shoes
  • Baths
  • Gladiators
All in all, this is a really interesting reader and can be recommended especially due to the mix of story and information.

Language: Paoli uses the entire Latin grammar (including subjunctive, conditional sentences, etc.). The difficulty level stays the same from the beginning to the end. I think that it is a good book to read right after finishing learning Latin grammar.

Sample text:
De secundis mensis.
Perfecta cena, non ante secundarum mensarum initium fiebat, quam dominus Laribus, vino mero in mensam effuso, libasset. Larium parva signa in mensa ad id statuebantur; omnes bona omina proferebant. In secundis mensis placentae adponebantur melle vel caseo confectae, variis cum pomis, atque ad irritandam gulam, quo libentius convivae potarent, sicca bellaria, uva passa, arida ficus. Tempus enim potandi erat, nec ulla iam edendi cupiditate satur conviva tenebatur.
This passage is quite representative, also for the size of these. The longest ones are not more than twice the size of it.

A small hint: use Anthony Rich's Illustrated Companion to the Latin Dictionary and Greek Lexicon while reading this book (in my opinion a must-have, at least as a PDF).


Carolus Raeticus
Sperate miseri, cavete felices.

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Re: Review: Paoli's Ciceronis filius

Post by Bedell » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:53 am

Thank you, for your review and also for making mention of the Companion. I have downloaded both and hope to get my use out of them over the winter's study season. :)
nothing should arouse more suspicion than a cross-party consensus - Antidemocritus fl. 2010

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Re: Review: Paoli's Ciceronis filius

Post by Sinister Petrus » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:11 pm

That looks seriously cool.

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Re: Review: Paoli's Ciceronis filius

Post by thesaurus » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:48 pm

Thank you for posting this resource and your review. Even though I like to think of myself as someone who has progressed beyond "school texts" in my Latin, I'm in the process of reading through this now. I've always had huge gaps in my knowledge of day to day Roman life, and this is very helpful on that front. Also, as much fun as it is to struggle through some work of great historical or literary importance, sometimes it's satisfying to just sit down and read a straight forward Latin text page by page, enjoying being able to understand it at the first go.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute

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Re: Review: Paoli's Ciceronis filius

Post by cogitans » Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:08 pm

Thank you very much for the tip. This looks to be quite interesting.

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