Cicero’s Image in America and the Discovery of De Republica

  • David S. Wiesen University of Southern California
  • edited by Stanley M. Burstein California State University, Los Angeles
Keywords: Cicero, De Republica, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Mixed Constitution, Conservatism


The discovery by Cardinal Angelo Mai in 1819 of extensive portions of Cicero’s De Republica aroused great interest in the United States. Within a decade Americans had published an edition of the Latin text and the first English translation of the new work as well as numerous articles about its contempo­rary relevance. This paper analyzes how conservative intellectuals found in De Republica support for their critique of democratic trends in American poli­tics connected with the popularity of Andrew Jackson, whom they viewed as a potential military dictator like Julius Caesar. Also highlighted in the article is the tension between this traditional approach to the reading of a Ciceronian text and the historicizing tendencies of the new German philological scholar­ship that was beginning to make itself felt in the United States in the 1820s.