Phantoms in the Philippics: Catiline, Clodius and Antonian Parallels

Author: Evans, Richard
Title: Phantoms in the Philippics: Catiline, Clodius and Antonian Parallels
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: 62-81
Keywords: Éloquence - Eloquenza - Eloquence, Histoire - Storia - History, Politique - Politica - Politics
Description: Richard Evans examines the use of Catiline and Clodius as negative models against Antony. The Philippics, he finds, give Cicero an opportunity for revenge against his former enemies and simultaneously represent a reassertion of his claim to the position of senior statesman in the res publica. However, Evans believes that the invective against Catiline and Clodius, Antony's former connections, was a miscalculation which did not advance Ciceros cause. He misjudged the level of residual support for them and the anger he personally had incurred in suppressing them. The initial impact of the speeches should not therefore be overestimated. (…) Friedrich Minzer pointed out long ago that Cicero did not speak first in the Senate at this time and usually had to come to terms with the opinion of the previous speaker before he could present his own reading of the situation. This must have hampered him severely, especially in an environment as dominated by hierarchy as the Roman Senate. This explains why the Philippics have a defensive feel; they are not uniformly proactive. In Evans’ words, ‘From the point of view of a modern historian trying to understand the politics of 44-43, the Philippics have assumed an importance they do not rightly deserve.’ They may seem vigorous and powerful to us, but they were far less so at the time and there were many other political and military moves that were determining people's behaviour and attitudes when the Philippics were being delivered and published. Their limitations need to be recognised. [Stevenson & Wilson 2008, 11]
Author initials: Evans 2008