Finessing Failure: the Sixth Philippic

Author: Steel, Catherine
Title: Finessing Failure: the Sixth 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: 255-265
Keywords: Éloquence - Eloquenza - Eloquence, Histoire - Storia - History, Politique - Politica - Politics
Description: Catherine Steel points out that Philippic 6 has a number of unusual features: it is one of the two Philippics (the other being Phil. 4) that were delivered to the Roman people rather than the Senate; it is a short speech, being a report on the deliberations in the Senate at which Cicero had contributed Philippic 5; it adds little or no factual information to Philippic 5; and it is a report of failure, given that the Senate had ultimately decided to send a peace embassy to Antony rather than declare war on him as Cicero was pressing it to do. His response in Philippic 6 is to ‘finesse failure’ in certain illuminating ways. Throughout, Steel demonstrates Cicero salvaging his own reputation and authority, and laying the foundations for a new phase of activity while not impugning the credibility of the Senate’s decision-making. The speech integrates the Senate and the Roman people; and the Senate's decision, while erroneous, is described as one which will ultimately confirm Ciceros judgement. This careful analysis, with emphasis placed upon Ciceros authority and concord in Roman society, tells us much about the aims behind compiling the corpus. It also tends to imply that Cicero's contemporary political failure did not prevent a positive impression of his position being conveyed by the corpus at a later date.  [Stevenson & Wilson 2008, 18]
Author initials: Steel 2008