The Lives of Cornelius Nepos. Thomas B. Lindsay

1898 The School Review  
IF the signs at present observable in the field of first Latin reading are indicative of anything, they point to the partial abandonment of Caesar as the first author to be read. Teachers have long felt that Caesar, writing in a style admirably adapted to his purpose but presenting extraordinary difficulties to the beginner in Latin, belongs to a later period of study. Aside from the difficulty of understanding Caesar, the young pupil finds Orgetorix and Ariovistus uninteresting, as too
more » ... ing, as too indirectly connected with the civilized world to appeal to his narrow historical imagination; nor does Caesar's masterly stratagem rouse in him the enthusiasm that a well told account of the exploits of a modern general would unfailingly excite. What has kept Caesar in his, anomalous position as first Latin author put into the hands of students is, probably, the unquestioned purity of his style. The abundant and convenient editions that have resulted from his general adoption in schools make the change to another author, or to selections from Caesar and other authors, somewhat slow, even if teachers of second year Latin are agreed that the change is advisable. The change, also, involves the question, What shall be substituted if we give up Caesar ? Of late certain efforts have been made to gather into one volume selections from the easier Latin authors, Eutropius, Aulus, Gellius and others, and these have met with an encouraging reception from teachers. Lhomond's simplification of the historians called Viri Romae has been reedited. Lastly, the fragment of Nepos's works remaining to us has put forth its claim as suitable material for beginners-a claim, indeed, already recognized by several colleges through requirements for admission. Teuffel says of Nepos' De Viris Illustribus that "the parts we possess of it, the work De Excellentibus Ducibus Exterarum Gentium and the biographies of Atticus (being an extract from his work De Historicis Latinis) show neither historical criticism nor perfection of style, but in the absence of better sources are often valuable and deserve praise for their lucidity of arrangement and an unpretentious tone." While it is undoubtedly true that Nepos is by no means the peer of Caesar in style, his Latin is unmistakably that of the classic period 47
doi:10.1086/433881 fatcat:vzmd44r7xrbpjcnunfcavkfini