The Second Philippic as a Source of Aristocratic Values

Author: Pitcher, Roger A.
Title: The Second Philippic as a Source of Aristocratic Values
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: 131-139
Keywords: Éloquence - Eloquenza - Eloquence, Histoire - Storia - History, Politique - Politica - Politics
Description: Roger Pitcher’s approach to the sensational invective of the Philippics is to see it as a subtle and complex refraction of a particular social discourse. In this light he analyses the Second Philippic as a text about values rather than facts. It is not a documentary record of actual behaviour but an affirmation of shared aristocratic ideals. Antony’s aspirations to autocratic power mean that he must be contravening the principles and practices that underlie the elites dominance of the Republic as a class. Thus his morality and psychology must be impaired, the gods must be appalled, and Ciceros description of his behaviour must have validity. Everything flows from his political stance, which Cicero describes as tyrannical in essence. The invective, therefore, functions at one remove from reality. The details of Antony’s relationship with Curio, for instance, have an interest in themselves, but what is significant according to this approach is that Cicero is permitted by the conventions of the genre and setting to exploit the feminisation of Antony in order to discredit him. The text, then, participates in a conflict over values, condemning the contravention of values, expressing strong support for an aristocratic code, and strong political opposition to someone who represents a threat to aristocratic control. It is, in other words, a considered presentation of the way one man has flouted shared values for his own advantage.  [Stevenson & Wilson 2008, 13]
Author initials: Pitcher 2008