Clementia and Beneficium in the Second Philippic

Author: Angel, Natalie
Title: Clementia and Beneficium in the Second Philippic
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: 114-130
Keywords: Éloquence - Eloquenza - Eloquence, Histoire - Storia - History, Politique - Politica - Politics
Description: Similarly, Natalie Angel views the anti-tyrant rhetoric as vital rather than conventional, and successful rather than ineffective. She links it with discourse on the true nature of mercy, and points out that in the latter years of his life Caesar had stressed his clementia and the obligation of beneficium implied therein. This continued after his death, orchestrated by Antony, in response to criticism from Cicero and the Liberators that Caesar had behaved as a tyrant and was thus justly slain. The Caesarians argued that the assassins were parricides rather than tyrannicides; they had failed to live up to their obligation. Cicero considered that simply by possessing the power to spare the lives of those who opposed him, Caesar had injured the potential recipients of his beneficium; his tyranny had voided any putative obligation (cf. Phil. 2.5-6). Angel demonstrates the pervasiveness of the clementia theme in contemporary political discourse, in a way that is rather surprising, given its relative absence during the Augustan period. While it appears on the clupeus virtutis given to Augustus by the Senate and Roman people (RG 34), there is only a passing mention in the Res Gestae of the emperor sparing citizens and foreigners after war, and the word clementia is conspicuously absent from that passage (RG 3).'° This tends to indicate that Cicero was successful in dismissing clementia propaganda as a feature of tyranny. It also supports the view that tyranny was a topic of special importance in the Philippics.  [Stevenson & Wilson 2008, 13]
Author initials: Angel 2008