This book addresses man’s growing understanding of the death of self in the mirror of other across the corridors of time – from Narcissus’ ancient pool, to Cicero’s Roman forum, to Rousseau’s Parisian theater, to Diderot’s convent in The Nun, to Sartre’s twentieth-century hell.
1. Cicero 17
Chapter One Cicero If people think that friendship springs from weakness and from a purpose to secure someone through whom we may obtain that which we lack, they assign her, if I may so express it, a lowly pedigree indeed, and an origin far from noble, and they would make her the daughter of poverty and want.1 —Cicero, On Friendship (44 BC) Let us begin our examination of Cicero with a background review of his youth, cherished teacher and role model Scaevola, close friend Atticus, and contemporary political intrigue. It was these influences that caused him to reflect, later on in life, on self mirrored in other and on how far one should go in using one’s friends to promote self interest and the general good. When Marcus Tullius Cicero was sixteen, he assumed the toga virilis and his father introduced him to Quintus Mucius Scaevola the augur to re- ceive instruction in Roman law (90 BC).2 Scaevola was a prominent Roman jurist and came from a family of renowned lawyers that included the pontifex maximus.3 Scaevola died in 88 BC and so Cicero was under his tutelage for just two years. As Cicero attended the augur’s lectures, Rome was in the throes of revo- lution: the Samnites and other Italian tribes were waging war against Rome to gain a larger share of Roman suffrage. During this time the Roman orator Publius Sulpicius became tribune of the plebs and proposed reforms that re- sulted in a civil war between...
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