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Ciceronian Invective

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes Cicero as a public figure trying to define what it is to be a proper Roman. As a public speaker, Cicero impresses readers most with his invective, an impression seemingly shared by the orator himself if we consider the way violent accusations punctuate his political life. Invective takes its function from its goal: if the fear of blame envisioned in On the Republic fails to maintain order, the perceived violator becomes exposed to public ridicule and is thereby excluded from the community. The chapter outlines the recognizable categories of invective, and surveys Cicero's deployment of these categories. It then discusses how Roman sources identify invective not simply as a literary artifice inherited from an older tradition, but as operating within the extra-legal framework Cicero posits in On the Republic as particular to Rome.

Keywords: Ciceronian Invective; On the Republic; orator; political life; Rome



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