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ROBERT GREENE'S "CICERONIS AMOR:" FICTIONAL BIOGRAPHY IN THE ROMANCE GENRE
CHARLES H. LARSON
Studies in the Novel
Vol. 6, No. 3 (fall 1974), pp. 256-267
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/29531664
Page Count: 12
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Although Robert Greene's Ciceronis Amor: Tullies Love (1589) is rarely read today, it was one of the most popular works of Greene in particular and of Elizabethan prose fiction in general. The explanation for this popularity is not hard to guess: professing to be a biographical account of a love affair in the life of Cicero, the grave dictator of Renaissance thought, Ciceronis Amor is in fact one of Greene's most imaginative and engaging pieces of fiction. The work needs to be evaluated not as biography, not as a prototypal novel, but rather as an example of prose romance, as Northrop Frye has defined the term. Greene does not develop realistic characters who inhabit a carefully-defined social context, but instead presents the reader with three stylized main characters who are representative types—Lentulus of the successful general turned unsuccessful wooer, Cicero of the bright young commoner who earns social position by his wit, and Terentia of the girl whose extraordinary beauty is accentuated by her chastity. In an uncharacteristically straightforward plot, Greene uses these three figures for the intellectual examination of at least two themes central to Renaissance literature—the value of male friendship and the independence of daughters in affairs of the heart. (CHL)
Studies in the Novel © 1974 The Johns Hopkins University Press