Cicero’s writings as learning texts for humanities students: from Augustus Wilkins to Cicero Digitalis
The heritage of the ancient Roman politician, orator and thinker Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), is considered as a set of texts that over centuries have been included in the curricula for humanities students, significantly changing the narrative tradition and detecting a way of understanding what is related to humanities. The key questions for the authors is the following: how and for what purposes was Cicero’s heritage presented to humanities students in educational texts in the first two decades of the 20th and 21st centuries? At the beginning of last century, scholars’ attention to Cicero was largely due to Augustus Samuel Wilkins (1843–1905), Paul Monroe (1869–1947) and his disciple Ellwood Cubberley (1868-1941). Many textbooks compiled by P. Monroe, A.S. Wilkins and E. Cubberley were published one after another. Thanks to the educational books of P. Monroe, A.S. Wilkins and E. Cubberley, different approaches to presenting Cicero's works for educational purposes were developed. It is these approaches that were reflected in educational books for humanists a century later. In Russian textbooks, sourcebooks, and anthologies on history of pedagogy, Cicero was mostly a figure of omission not only in the first decades, but throughout the entire 20th century. At the beginning of the 21st century, many learning books for humanities students appeared. Their authors and compilers consider Cicero as an author who left a conceptual description of pedagogical reality (a detailed description of educational process) and chose a narrative description (description of what happened through the eyes of those who take part in it). We have to regret that the Russian domestic tradition of including Cicero's heritage in the content of humanitarian education has hardly undergone any changes over a century: fragments of his works continue to be presented on a small scale, are practically not grouped according to key issues, and rarely accompanied by pedagogical commentaries. The question of why some texts were selected while others were not, can be asked to every author and compiler who included Cicero's texts in their books for humanities students. The search for answers to this “eternal question” can be associated both with the flexibility of the humanitarian curriculum, and with the personal preferences of the authors and compilers of learning books.