Cicero and Quintilian on the oratorical use of hand gestures

Auteur: Hall, Jon
Titre: Cicero and Quintilian on the oratorical use of hand gestures
Revue/Collection: Classical Quarterly, 54(1)
Annèe edition: 2004
Pages: 143-160
Mots-clès: Rhétorique - Retorica - Rhetorics
Description: It is frustrating how little evidence we have about Cicero’s own practices of oratorical delivery. While we possess texts of over fifty of his orations, few details are provided by his contemporaries about how he turned these words into effective live performances. No less disappointing is the fact that Cicero himself reveals little about these techniques in his rhetorical treatises.1 This deficiency is especially acute as far as his use of oratorical gesture is concerned. We have of course Quintilian’s detailed discussion of the subject (Inst. 11.3.65–184), a discussion that illustrates quite strikingly how Roman speakers could use gestures involving their arms, hands, and fingers to give extra force and impact to their words.2 And yet how exactly Rome’s greatest orator exploited these features remains a matter of some speculation. The matter would be straightforward enough if we could assume that Cicero used essentially the same hand gestures as Quintilian describes. But the recent suggestion that oratorical gesture in Rome became significantly more complex during the imperial period means that this continuity in practice cannot simply be taken for granted [Author]
Sigle auteur: Hall 2004