Litterae manent : Ciceronian oratory and the written word

Author: Butler, Michael
Title: Litterae manent : Ciceronian oratory and the written word
Place edition: New York
Editor: Columbia University, Department of Classics.
Year edition: 2000
Pages: IV, 360
Keywords: Éloquence - Eloquenza - Eloquence
Description: [Abstract] Thesis (Ph. D.). A persistent view regards Roman oratory as public speaking elevated to the level of an art form, against the backdrop of a culture in which communication was overwhelmingly oral: The successful orator was eo ipso a successful speaker. This dissertation adopts a different point of view. The object of study is the early career of Rome’s most famous orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero. By situating Ciceronian oratory within a broad context of Roman textual culture, the author arrives at the thesis that Cicero’s first successes as an orator depended, to a degree hitherto underestimated, on his ability to manipulate written texts of diverse kinds. The evidence considered comprises two categories. First, Cicero’s earliest surviving speeches, the Pro Quinctio, Pro S. Roscio Amerino, and the collection of speeches In Verrem, are considered from several different perspectives: the expanding role of written texts in Roman law and procedure, the growing importance of documentary evidence in Roman trials, and the increasing significance of published speeches for an orator’s reputation for eloquence. Second, a previously unexamined characteristic of the earliest surviving manuscripts of Cicero’s speeches, the division of the texts into small sections known as capita, is shown to derive from Cicero himself, suggesting a greater complexity and importance of written copies of speeches than scholars formerly have recognized.
Author initials: Butler 2000