Theses Doctoral

Cicero Among the Stars: Natural Philosophy and Astral Culture at Rome

Simone, Ashley

This dissertation examines Cicero’s contribution to the rise of astronomy and astrology in the literary and cultural milieu of the late Republic and early Empire. Chapter One, “Rome’s Star Poet,” examines how Cicero conceives of world building through words to connect Rome to the stars with the Latin language. Through a close study of the Aratea, I consider how Cicero’s pioneering of Latin astronomical language influenced other writers, especially his contemporaries Lucretius and Catullus. In Chapter Two, “The Stars and the Statesman,” I examine Cicero’s attitudes towards politics. By analyzing Scipio’s Dream and astronomy in De re publica, I show how Cicero uses cosmic models to yoke Rome to the stars. To understand the astral dimensions of Cicero’s philosophy, in Chapter Three, “Signs and Stars, Words and Worlds,” I provide a close reading of Cicero’s poetic quotations in context in the De natura deorum and De divinatione to show how Cicero puts the Aratean cosmos to the test in Academic fashion. Ultimately, I argue that Cicero profoundly shaped the Roman view of the stars and cemented the link between cosmos and empire.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Volk, Katharina
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 21, 2020