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Cicero de Oratore 2.51-64 and Rhetoric in Historiography

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An analysis of Cicero's vocabulary, argumentation, and views on Greek historians in de Orat. 2.51-8 shows that he criticizes the early Roman historians for failings in both style and content. This contradicts A.J. Woodman's claim that the views of Cicero's 'Antonius' have “nothing to do with style”. Furthermore the idea that Cicero considered the exaedificatio of an historical work not to be subject to the leges historiae is based on a mistaken interpretation of de Orat. 2.63. It is argued that this text provides no theoretical foundation for a “hard core” of material subject to the leges historiae and a “superstructure” subject only to the rhetorical requirement of plausibility.

Affiliations: 1: University of Leiden, Faculty of Arts, Department of History, P.O. Box 9515, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands;, Email:


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