Italy was at that time full of Greek science and of Greek systems, and these studies were at that time cultivated in Latium with greater zeal than they now are in the same towns; and here too at Rome, on account of the tranquil state of the republic at that time, they were far from neglected. Therefore, the people of Tarentum, and Rhegium, and Neapolis, presented him with the freedom of the city and with other gifts; and all men who were capable of judging of genius thought him deserving of their acquaintance and hospitality. When, from this great celebrity of his, he had become known to us though absent, he came to Rome, in the consulship of Marius and Catulus. It was his lot to have those men as his first consuls, the one of whom could supply him with the most illustrious achievements to write about, the other could give him, not only exploits to celebrate, but his ears and judicious attention. Immediately the Luculli, though Archias was as yet but a youth,1 received him in their house. But it was not only to his genius and his learning, but also to his natural disposition and virtue, that it must be attributed that the house which was the first to be opened to him in his youth, is also the one in which he lives most familiarly in his old age.
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THE SPEECH OF M. T. CICERO FOR AULUS LICINIUS ARCHIAS, THE POET
1 The Latin is praetextus. Before he had exchanged the praetexta for the toga virilis. It has generally been thought that the age at which this exchange was made was seventeen, but Professor Long, the highest possible authority on all subjects of Latin literature, and especially on Roman law, says, (Smith, Dict. Ant V. Impubes,) “The toga virilis was assumed at the Liberalia in the month of March; and though no age appears to have been positively fixed for the ceremony, it probably took place, as a general rule, on the feast which next followed the completion of the fourteenth year, though it is certain that the completion of the fourteenth year was not always the time observed.” Even supposing Archias to have been seventeen, it appears rather an early age for him to have established such a reputation as Cicero speaks of, and perhaps, as not being at that time a Roman citizen, he probably did not wear the praetexta at all; the expression is not to be taken literally, but we are merely to understand generally that he was quite a young man.
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