De Inventione
Beginning of an Italian manuscript version, early 12th century
LanguageClassical Latin

De Inventione is a handbook for orators that Cicero composed when he was still a young man. Quintilian tells us that Cicero considered the work rendered obsolete by his later writings.[1] Originally four books in all, only two have survived into modern times. It is also credited with the first recorded use of the term "liberal arts" or artes liberales, though whether Cicero coined the term is unclear.[2][3] The text also defines the concept of dignitas: dignitas est alicuius honesta et cultu et honore et verecundia digna auctoritas (Dignity is honorable prestige. It merits respect, honour, and reverence.).[4]

At the request of William of Santo Stefano, De Inventione was translated into Old French by John of Antioch in 1282.[5]


  1. ^ Caplan, H. (1954). Introduction. Rhetorica ad Herennium. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  2. ^ Kimball, Bruce. Orators and Philosophers. New York: College Entrance Examination Board, 1995. p. 13
  3. ^ Cicero. De Inventione. Book 1, Section 35
  4. ^ Peter Garnsey (1970). Social status and legal privilege in the Roman Empire. Clarendon. pp. 224.
  5. ^ Jonathan Rubin (2018), "John of Antioch and the Perceptions of Language and Translation in Thirteenth-Century Acre", in John France (ed.), Acre and Its Falls: Studies in the History of a Crusader City, Brill, pp. 90–104.