Cicero on The Good Life and His Influence on the Modern World

Christian Kopff July 17, 2017

Presented at:
SCL Summer Conference 2017


The first entrance requirement to Harvard College in 1642 was to be "able to read Tully or such like classical Latin Author ex tempore." Tully is Cicero. Why did Harvard and other colonial colleges want students to read Cicero's writings before admission? I believe the decisive factor was Cicero's character as found in his writings. He was an influential politician, a canny defense attorney, and the author of dialogues of philosophy, rhetoric, and politics. Cicero's range of accomplishments inspired the ideal of the Renaissance Man, the man for all seasons, who balanced a thoughtful ethical life with participation in politics. We shall explore both Cicero's views on the Good Life, beata, vita, and his influence on major figures of the 16th and 18th centuries: Thomas Moore, Martin Luther David Hume, Edmund Burke, and John Adam.s


Christian Kopff
E. Christian Kopff was educated at St. Paul’s School (Garden City NY), Haverford College and UNC, Chapel Hill (Ph. D., Classics). He has taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder, since 1973, and most currently as Associate Director of the Honors Program. He has edited a critical edition of the Greek text of Euripides’ Bacchae (Teubner, 1982) and published over 100 articles and reviews on scholarly, pedagogical and popular topics. A Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, he has received research grants from the NEH and CU’s Committee on Research. The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition (ISIBooks, 1999) is widely cited by Classical Christian educators. He translated Josef Pieper, Tradition: Concept and Claim (ISIBooks, 2008; St. Augustine’s, 2010) and contributed the Introduction to Herbert Jordan’s translation of Homer’s Iliad (Oklahoma UP, 2008).

Other Contributions by Christian Kopff

Christian Dante

Article - SCL Conference 2015

Classical Dante: Rome and the Two Kingdoms

Article - SCL Conference 2015

Beauty and Truth in Science

Article - SCL Conference 2014

In Defense of Latin

Article - SCL Conference 2013

Recommended Resources

Web Tools for Schools
Article by Mark Palmer in - SCL Conference 2014
Standards and Accountability for Christian Schools
Article by Timothy Wiens in - SCL Conference 2011
Common Core, AdvancED, and Changes in the Works
Article by David Goodwin in - SCL Conference 2015