Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Cicero" by John Lord

Source: ejunto (part 1 | 2 )
Length: 49 minutes
Reader: Andrew Julow

The story: Cicero, the greatest statesman of the last days of the Roman Republic, has a life that makes for a great story. He rose from a modestly weathly, but politically weak family to become the consul of Rome without being a general or patrician nobleman. Then, outmaneuvered by his political opponents, he was exiled for proclaiming without trial a sentence of death on the minor members of an attempted coup. He rose again to prominence through the force of his writing, then fell again when he chose to back Pompey against Julius Ceasar in the Roman Civil War. After the murder of Ceasar, Cicero spoke out against Mark Antony, finally submitting to execution after Antony entered a power-sharing agreement with Augustus.

Lord makes no excuses for giving his opinions about Cicero or any other subject that comes his way. He draws parallels between the Romans and individual politicians of his own time. Although these comparisons were probably enlightening for people reading his words in the 19th century, I had difficulty following some of his references. Lord's opinionated retelling is entertaining and educational, but I found myself wishing he had spent more time on the details of this fascinating man's life, and less time pontificating about the lessons we should learn.

Rating: 7 /10

The reader: Julow has a serious, earnest baritone that is a good match for history. The only problem is that he doesn't vary his delivery much, sticking with the same punctuated declarations throughout. Personally, I enjoy a looser style, but Julow's stiff reading is probably more accurate for the time it was written. Other than this matter of taste, the reading is good and the sound quality excellent.

No comments: