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Cicero in the Renaissance

Cicero was a huge deal in the Renaissance. Manuscripts of the classical Roman statesman’s letters and speeches were rediscovered by the Italian humanists Francesco Petrarch and Poggio Bracciolini in the 14th and 15th centuries, leading to new interest and dissemination of his works among scholars. Many Renaissance humanists adored Cicero’s prose style, and his work was esteemed as a model for composing in Latin.

To meet the demand for Cicero in studies and schoolrooms, printers supplied numerous editions of Cicero’s works, including his letters and his works on oratory and rhetoric. Special Collections owns numerous copies Cicero’s works from the 15th and 16th centuries. The oldest is this beautifully-decorated copy of two rhetorical works, De finibus bonorum & malorum and Topica, printed by Fillippo di Pietro in Venice in 1480.

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