- October 10th, 2006
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Cum ea oratio, quam M. Tullius in senatu in L. Catilinam praesentem a. d. VI Id. Novembres habuit, a senatoribus ita audita esset, ut plerique consuli adsentirentur et Catilinam hostem patriae atque parricidam appellarent, ille e senatu egressus proximaque nocte relictis P. Lentulo, C. Cethego aliisque in urbe sociis, qui ea, de quibus convenisset exsequerentur, ad Manlium profectus erat. Postridie eius diei M. Cicero contione convocata, ut populum de iis rebus, quae agitabantur, edoceret et invidiam a se deprecaretur, hanc, quae infra legitur, orationem habuit
That is an excerpt from the second oration of Cicero against Lucius Catilina. Once, a few years ago, I could have translated that, parts by sight. Now, all I can do is barely recognize it as one of Cicero’s orations, much less understand any meaning behind it.
I wonder if losing that ability means anything.
Sure, I remember hearing stories of how Cicero was perhaps the greatest orator of all history. I remember learning how, in order to improve his public speaking abilities, Cicero went to the ocean. Upon reaching the beach, he filled his mouth with small rocks and pebbles and began to shout his orations at the sea. He shouted until blood ran down his lips, the sharp rocks and pebbles cutting him sharply. And even then, he persisted, believing that if he could give a powerful oration with a mouth full of rocks, he could speak anywhere without worry or fear – he knew his abilities.
Is it enough that I even know who Cicero was – I doubt many of my peers can say that they do.
I realize that I cannot possibly remember everything. I realize that talents will come and go, especially since I do not have the determination to scream at the sea with a mouth of bloody rocks. But, what new things have I really learned as of late? If I am destined to forget much that I now know, would it not hold that I should make every effort to learn as much as possible, in the hopes that I will retain some small piece of that knowledge?