Cicero as Rhetorician

Author: May, James M
Title: Cicero as Rhetorician
Review/Collection: In : Dominik, William & Hall, Jon (ed.), A Companion to Roman Rhetoric, Oxford/Malden/Carlton, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2007, 528 p. [Dominik & Hall 2007]
Year edition: 2007
Pages: 250-263
Keywords: Rhétorique - Retorica - Rhetorics
Description: Were Cicero here present to speak for himself, he would undoubtedly wince at, or perhaps even disavow, the description of him that stands in the title of this chapter, ‘‘as rhetorician.’’ Indeed, in Cicero’s Rome, that title generally denoted a professional teacher of rhetoric, an occupation considered both socially and intellectually inferior by him and his peers. Writing toward the end of his career, the great orator is still at pains to justify to his noble companions the time and efforts he has devoted to writing and tutoring in subjects rhetorical (Orat. 140–6). And in his most mature works that concern these matters, he seems never to miss an opportunity to criticize roundly these teachers of rhetoric, whose stock handbooks were characteristically crammed full of trite precepts, mocked by the philosophers, and had little relevance for speakers who were engaged actively in Roman public life (Wisse 2002a: 341, 346–7). Cicero, to be sure, viewed himself primarily as a statesman and as a speaker, not as a rhetorician. And therein lies at least one of the secrets of the effectiveness of his rhetorical writings: they were composed from the point of view of one of the most successful and skillful practitioners of the art of oratory in the history of the world. [Author]This chapter contains section titled: Cicero's Published Speeches ; The Verrines ; The Catilinarians ; Philippics 2 .
Author initials: May 2007