A Philosophy of Legitimacy in Cicero’s Philippics

Author: Christian, Emily
Title: A Philosophy of Legitimacy in Cicero’s Philippics
Review/Collection: In : Stevenson,Tom & Wilson, Marcus (Eds.), Cicero's Philippics: History, rhetoric and ideology, Polygraphia, coll. "Prudentia", Auckland, 2008, 374 p.
Year edition: 2008
Pages: 153-167
Keywords: Éloquence - Eloquenza - Eloquence, Histoire - Storia - History, Rhétorique - Retorica - Rhetorics
Description: Emily Christian makes this basic concern for legitimacy - who had the right to govern - the inspiration for her paper. She believes that in Cicero’ mind it was possible for a lack of military force to be counterbalanced by ideological and theoretical strength. This might seem at variance with fundamental realities, but she stresses that there was a general desire among both Caesarians and Liberators to gain legal recognition from the refashioned Caesarian Senate, which thereby became the conferring body for legitimacy too. Cicero could not simply resort to rhetorical catchwords in order to claim a higher legitimacy. He knew that much of the behaviour of Brutus, Cassius, Decimus Brutus, and other allies was not sanctioned by law. Thus he set about proposing a theory of legitimacy that transcended officially sanctioned legality. This exploited social and moral traditions and implied that a legal or constitutional right to govern could be overturned. His aim was not to make a contribution to political philosophy but to produce practical political results, and in the end his role in having Antony declared a hostis cannot be denied.  [Stevenson & Wilson 2008, 16]
Author initials: Christian 2008