Cicero’s vir clarissimus

Author: Whitehead, Simon
Title: Cicero’s vir clarissimus
Review/Collection: In : Welch, Kathryn & Hillard, T.W. (Ed.), Roman Crossings: Theory and practice in the Roman Republic, Classical Press of Wales, 2005, 344 p.
Year edition: 2005
Pages: 141-208
Keywords: Politique - Politica - Politics
Description: Simon Whitehead looks to the all-invasive gradations of distinction in the Republic. Standing even above the nobiles were the clarissimi, and though the honorifics nobilis and clarissimus are conceptually linked (in terms of the visibility of these men), there was, it seems, nothing vague, coy or ambiguous about the latter label. Whitehead here argues that the term clarissimus demarcates, with technical precision, the consulares and those deemed worthy of consular office. Even here, of course, can be seen the intrusion of practice. Whitehead’s comprehensive survey registers anomalies, all resting upon, and thus underwriting, a generally understood meaning. Certain specific contexts – and the forensic needs of a particular situation – might allow a certain licence. The latter should not surprise. Cicero could include freedmen (libertini) amongst the optimates when the need prompted. [Welch & Hillard 2005, 12]
Author initials: Whitehead 2005