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Rhetorician, critic, and historian; flourished in the first century B.C. at Calacte, a town on the northern coast of Sicily. He was the first Jew noted for literary activity at Rome. Little is known of his life. He was born a slave, and was named "Archagathus." His parents were either of Sicilian or Syrian origin. As a freedman he bore the name "Cæcilius," perhaps after one of the Metelli, the ancient patrons of Sicily. He went to Rome and devoted himself to the study of rhetoric, Apollodorus probably being his first master, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who lived at Rome from 30 to 7 B.C., his close friend. Suidas states that Cæcilius was a Jew, an assertion which is now generally accepted, though some writers think that he may have been only a convert to Judaism.

The Attic School.

The fragments of Cæcilius' writings which are still extant attest above all his versatility. Together with his friend Dionysius, he was the representative in his time of the Attic style of oratory in contradistinction to the verbose Asiatic style. While the earlier devotees of the Attic school contented themselves with the study and the classification ofliterary forms, Cæcilius and Dionysius extended their labors to the fields of philology and esthetic criticism; and the hatred felt by the former for the Asiatic school resulted in his two works directed against it: Τίνι ΔιαΦέρει ὁ Αττικος Ζῆλος τοῦ Ασιανοῦ ("On the Differences between the Attic and the Asiatic Styles"), and Κατὰ Φρυγῶν ("Against the Phrygians"; that is, the Asiatic Barbarians). In his earliest works on rhetoric (Tέχνη Pητορική and Περὶ Σχημάτωμ), Cæcilius showed himself a disciple of the older Attic teachers, who confined their attention to matters of form; but soon afterward he seems to have come under the influence of Dionysius, to whom may be attributed his interest in philologic and esthetic criticism.

Other Works.

In the latter field, the most significant work of Cæcilius is Περὶ χαρακτῆρος τῶμ Δέκα έητόρωμ ("The Characteristics of the Ten Orators"). Though Dionysius also wrote on several of the chief orators of Greece, it is either in Cæcilius or his contemporary Didymus that the first account of the caron of the ten Attic orators is found. In the above-mentioned work Cæcilius endeavors, by means of information gathered from traditional documents and all other available sources, to present truthful portraits of the orators, in order to determine the time and to illumine the circumstances in which each oration was delivered. These researches possessed unusual critical value in that they not only offered classic examples of the adaptation of style to substance, but helped to unmask a large number of orations circulating under false names. They remained the permanent source of information on the diverse qualities of the classic orators, even the erroneous hypotheses of the author being accepted by later writers as authentic facts. To promote the study of the classics, Cæcilius compiled a lexicon that was much used by later scholars. The fine rhetorical feeling and critical acumen which enabled him to expose literary pretenders were again exhibited in a work devoted to an examination of the genuine and the spurious orations of Demosthenes. However, he used his discriminative gifts also in comparative studies, this being a unique literary phenomenon in that time. He produced three essays of this character: a comparison of Demosthenes and Æschines, of Demosthenes and Cicero, and of Lysias and Plato. As an evidence of his intellectual curiosity, the study of Cicero is particularly note-worthy, in view of the fact that Cæcilius and Dionysius were the only students of Latin literature at a time when it was the literary fashion to dismiss it with contempt. In all his writings on esthetic subjects Cæcilius appears as an uncompromising antagonist of the artificial style, always insisting that thought and the proper choice of words, with the least possible use of rhetorical ornamentation, indicate excellent oratory. These ideas are reiterated in his work on "The Sublime" (Περὶ 'Ιψους), known from a polemical work against it composed in the first century under the same title and falsely ascribed to Longinus. Cæcilius did not attempt to formulate a theory of the sublime, but simply gave illustrations of what was and what was not sublime. It is interesting to note that among the examples of the sublime there is a quotation, somewhat inaccurate, from the first chapter of Genesis.

As the literary method of Cæcilius was critical and historical, he was naturally interested in history; and several historical works are ascribed to him: one dealing with the historical incidents mentioned in the "Orators," and with the extent to which the orators had clung to strictly authenticated facts; another on the Servile wars; and a third on "History" (Περὶ Ἱστορίας). The briefest summary of his works may well lead one to concur with those scholars who regard Cæcilius as the most scholarly and versatile representative of the Attic school, and one who, by his labors in hitherto unexplored regions, rendered considerable service to the cause of science.

  • Fragments of the works of Cæcilius, collected by Müller, Fragm. Hist. Græc. iii. 330-333, and Th. Burckhardt, Cæcili Rhetoris Fragmenta, Bâle, 1863;
  • Suidas, Lexicon, s.v. Καικίλιος;
  • Martens, De Libello Περι ϒψους, Bonn, 1877;
  • Blass, Die Griech. Beredsamkeit, 1865, pp. 169et seq.;
  • Rothstein, in Hermes, 1888, xxiii. 1-20;
  • Weise, Quæstiones Cæcilianæ, Berlin, 1888;
  • Boysen, De Cæcilii Calactini Lexici Rhetorici Auctore;
  • Reinach, Quid Judæo cum Verre, in Rev. Et. Juives, 1893, xxvi. 36-46;
  • Roberts, Amer. Journ. of Philology, 1897, xviii. 302-312;
  • Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom. i. 92et seq.;
  • Schürer, Gesch., 3d ed., iii. 483et seq.;
  • Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyc. iii. 1174-1188.
G.H. G. E.
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