Cicero Fam. 5.8 and Fam. 15.5 in the Light of Modern Politeness Theory

Auteur: Hall, Jon
Titre: Cicero Fam. 5.8 and Fam. 15.5 in the Light of Modern Politeness Theory
Revue/Collection: Antichthon, 30
Annèe edition: 1996
Pages: 19-33
Mots-clès: Stylistique et genres littéraires - Stilistica e generi letterari - Stylistics and literary genre
Description: Cicero, like most of us, lived his life subject to certain rules of politeness. What he said and how he behaved were subtly shaped by the circumstances and expectations of the society in which he moved. This fact strikes us most forcefully perhaps in his correspondence, where we can discern at first hand the result of these pressures on aristocratic manners. And yet these letters necessarily challenge our interpretative skills. For we bring to them today views of politeness that may well be very different from those of Cicero himself. The potential for cross-cultural misunderstanding yawns wide. In this article I would like to discuss two letters in particular which seem to me to have fallen victim to cross-cultural confusion: Fam. 5.8 from Cicero to M. Crassus and Fam. 15.5 from M. Cato to Cicero. In both cases, misinterpretation arises primarily, I believe, from the form of linguistic politeness used in them. Modern scholars, it is true, often show an awareness that Roman aristocrats possessed their own peculiar norms of politeness; but few have tried to examine these in detail or consider why they took the precise form that they did [Author]
Sigle auteur: Hall 1996