Style and character in Ciceronian oratory

Author: Samponaro, Laura M.
Title: Style and character in Ciceronian oratory
Place edition: New York
Editor: Columbia University, Department of Classics.
Year edition: 2007
Pages: II, 280
Keywords: Éloquence - Eloquenza - Eloquence, Stylistique et genres littéraires - Stilistica e generi letterari - Stylistics and literary genre
Description: [Abstract] Thesis (Ph. D.). This study of the development of Ciceronian ethos tracks how details of syntax and rhetoric connect Cicero’s style with his politics. Both direct and indirect means of character building are analyzed. Cicero’s ethical style, his unique brand of self-representation, is consistent yet flexible; variations show how Ciceronian decorum unites form and content, eloquence and wisdom (Introduction). Since manners are morals for Cicero, constructing ethos is both an intellectual and moral activity and is prerequisite for good statesmanship. Cicero meets, subverts, and reconfigures the expectations of his novus homo role in the Verrines (ch.1). Exploiting his position as an insider/outsider, Cicero depicts himself as solely capable of preserving senatorial auctoritas. Relying on the same means to achieve conflicting ends, this careful style reflects the delicate maneuvering of the new man who unites opposite qualities in one ethos. The elegant ethical style of the Pro Murena (ch.2) showcases Cicero’s ability to adopt potentially conflicting personae as consul. Emphasizing his own versatility at the expense of his opponents’ inflexibility, Cicero makes rhetorical virtuosity a virtue and a consular officium. The inflated post reditum ethical style of the Pro Milone (ch.3) reflects Cicero’s attempt to transform forensic and political failure into success. Relying on ornatus, a luxuriant yet strained style, and former novus homo tactics, Cicero turns political liabilities into assets and sets aright in speech a world turned upside down. The Second Philippic (ch.4) illustrates Cicero’s late ethical style with its shifting viewpoints, contrary to facts, and unfulfilled wishes. This crisis style, an amalgam of Cicero’s previous ethical styles, becomes more brittle and disjunctive reflecting Cicero’s shift towards a Catonian view of reality, in which he, his style, and Rome must be sacrificed in order to be preserved. The Conclusion argues that paradox, the resolution of the contrary into the compatible, and the fragile balance of opposites that characterize Cicero’s ethical style result from the need for consensus in deliberative politics. The flexible ethical style, the variation of which signals continuity, is the model for the republican style in which free governments are constituted and maintained through speech.
Author initials: Samponaro 2007