Scipionic Circle


The Scipionic Circle, or the Circle of Scipio, was a group of philosophers, poets, and politicians patronized by their namesake, Scipio Aemilianus.[1] Together they would discuss Greek culture, literature, and humanism.[2] Alongside their philhellenic disposition, the group also had a more humane Roman foreign policy.[3] The term was first derived during the 19th century and ubiquitously adopted by scholars of the early 20th century.[4] The collection of members varied during its existence, from 15 names of the early period, to 27 in its middle to 10 in its final.[5]

Contemporary academia regards the concept of the "Scipionic Circle" with suspicion. Cicero is the primary source on the subject in his works De amicitia and De republica.[6] Cicero's construction bestows an unsupported unity between Scipio's friends. If there ever was such a unity it would be between Panaetius and the more philosophically-inclined members of the collective.[4] In addition to a dependence on these works of Cicero, within these two works Cicero creates two different circles.[7] Among other problems brought up by academics, two of the most prominent members of the group, Terence and Panaetius, could not have met as Terence had died prior to Panaetius arriving in Rome.[2]

In De re publicaEdit

Main speakers:

Senior speakers:

Younger speakers:

Having younger speakers illustrates "the Roman penchant for training the youth by having them listen to respected members of the previlous generation, as in De oratore".[8]

In De oratoreEdit

This dialogue takes place in 129 BC, "in the aftermath of the turbulent reform politics of Tiberius Gracchus and shortly before Scipio's untimely and mysterious death."[8]

Senior Speakers:

  • Quintus Mucius Scaevola Augur, who "provides an important link between the two dialogues, a young man in De re publica and an old man, the father-in-law and teacher of Crassus, in De oratore."[8]

Other membersEdit


  1. ^ Publius Cornelius Aemilianus Scipio Africanus Minor
  2. ^ a b A Companion to Terence.
  3. ^ "Scipionic circle - Brill Reference".
  4. ^ a b The Oxford Classical Dictionary
  5. ^ "Cambridge Journals Online - The Classical Review - Abstract - The Circle of Scipio A Study of the Scipionic Circle. By Ruth Martin Brown. [See C.R. XLVIII, 246.]".
  6. ^ Scipio Africanus
  7. ^ Zetzel, J.E.G. (1972). "Cicero and the Scipionic Circle". Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. 76. JSTOR 310983.
  8. ^ a b c Cicero and the Development of Prudential Practice at Rome, by Robert W. Cape Jr. from Prudence. Ed. Robert Hariman. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003. - Page 53.