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Cicero: Politics and Persuasion in Ancient Rome Hardcover – March 24, 2011
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Little is known of Cicero’s childhood but she uses his comments about children and family in De Finibus to reconstruct his. In this work Cicero mentions the importance of hearing stories moralizing stories of “good and bad behavior”. This was a clever approach.
She suggests that Archias, a poet, whom Cicero defended in court, may have taught young Cicero to read and speak Greek. Such observations makes comments which Cicero has of Archias take on a personal nature.
Tempest points out that Cicero may have respected Marcus Aemilius Scaurus not only for his willingness to defend the Senate’s position but also because he in a way worked his way up from the bottom.
Tempest does not bring it up but it always seemed to me dubious that Cicero thought of changing his name, as Cicero from cicer was not impressive sounding enough. After all Scaurus means swollen foot, Lentulus bean and Catullus puppy dog.
When Cicero learned of Tisias’ and Corax’ technique of arguing from probability, he was hooked on rhetoric- the example which Tempest uses is a small man attacking a large man- is it likely that a small man would attack a large man?
In 80 BC Cicero defended Sextus Roscius from Ameria. Very powerful characters brought a case of parricide against Roscius. These were friends of Sulla, Dictator. Cicero took the case. The prosecuting attorney on the day of the trial acted as though it was a slam dunk. But Cicero cleverly won the case. Tempest is impressed with his courage.
After an education tour in the east and duties as Quaestor in Sicily, Cicero was asked to take the case against the former governor of Sicily, Gaius Verres. There was much at stake- he was opposed by the leading orator, Hortensius, strong political allies supported Verres and Cicero hoped to win elected Aedile. Cicero had to attack Verres but at the same time not alienate those he would need for his future office bids. Tempest has great praise for Cicero’s handling of the case. She points out that Hortensius had an amazing memory: he could recite back an opponent’s speech with one hearing, and he knew the law and oratory. One would need to read the book but Cicero from the time he was asked to take the case until the moment of the trial had one road block after the next put in his way by Verres’ buddies. He won the case.
Tempest includes a quote from Cicero about Hortensius:
For twelve years after my consulship, Hortensius and I engaged in some of the greatest trials side by side. I always regarded him as my superior and he held me as his.
This and numerous other quotes from his works could be assembled to balance the criticism that Cicero was conceited. Just an observation.
Tempest seems to suggest that his defense of Gaius Antonius Hydrida (once his colleague in the consulship) and Publius Cornelius Sulla (nephew of the Dictator), brought his integrity into question. It does look as though Cicero walked a fine line which allowed some heavy criticism.
Tempest asserts that Pompey’s/Caesar’s/Crassus’ ambition combined with Cato’s obstinate behavior created the Triumvirate. This is for sure a huge part of it.
But much of the blame it seems to me must be placed on those who so valued their own personal interests so much that the state was turned over to thugs. Their actions were a moral breech of constitutional behavior because with these guys debate and discussion were not curtailed but eliminated. This was something Cicero could not stomach.
After Cicero’s consulship his problems increased week by week. Tempest puts his loss of Pompey’s support upon Cicero’s conceit. Then, too, when Cicero rejected Caesar’s offers which would have given Cicero protection against Clodius, Cicero refused. Caesar does not seem to be one that liked being told no.
When Cicero’s exile became more and more possible, Pompey was removed from the picture when Vettius told the story that there was a plot against Pompey’s life. Pompey shut himself up in his house. There was also the suggestion that Cicero was behind it. For sure something was going on. But I have never understood why Pompey is not censored for his cowardice. Here was a guy who saw battle, could be brutal. Yet, there is announcement of conspiracy to plot his murder and he disappears.
Tempest impressively discusses Cicero’s exile in terms of his own letters which reveal a man in self pity and distress but also in terms of the unusual violence and brutality of Clodius and his followers.
August 4, 57 BC an assembly votes for the recall of Cicero. August 5, he sets sail from Dyrrachium, Greece and lands that day at Brundisium.
I never wondered until this time. But there must have been a network of messengers or something to convey the news so fast.
Tempest pojnts out that Cicero probably took politics too personally. Interesting point.
Upon his return from exile, Cicero strove to make a place for himself in the political make-up. He always wanted to be somewhat independent in order to give himself room to move and shift according to the political climate. He came darn close to finding a way to put a wedge between Caesar and Pompey. But the Conference at Luca put an end to that. At this point Cicero felt that he had no choice but support the big three. For this he has come under much criticism and in some ways deservedly so. But Tempest very wisely makes the case that Cicero knew in how much danger his family was. When exiled, his wife was manhandled, his family forced into hiding, furniture looted from his houses, books carted away, properties burnt, columns removed. She is not excusing the guy but at least makes a long overdue assessment that more was at stake than his own reputation and standing. This was a very interesting section of the book.
Cicero became governor of Cilicia. Declared Imperator. This entitled him to a triumph. She suggests that he kept these during the discussions just before the civil war so that he could maintain a position of impartiality to negotiate a peace treaty between Caesar and Pompey.
For anyone interested in this, I highly recommend reading Magnus Wistrand’s Cicero Imperator.
Tempest sees the Pro Marcello as an example of the first speech in Latin in praise of a sole ruler. The very theme of the speech places Caesar in a most unconstitutional position it seems to me. It can just as easily be considered a speech with a warning.
Cicero wrote to a friend about the need to get together and perhaps be architects or workmen for the republic. Tempests suggest that this presents the possibility that Cicero felt that Caesar might be interested in restoring the Republic. Cicero’s hopes were dashed but this is a fascinating idea.
So it makes sense as Tempest says that Cicero was working so hard to get Caesar to allow the return of those exiled. Cicero knew that there was a need for experienced Senators in the Senate, if the Republic was ever to have any hope of restoration.
The death of Tullia- this exposed to Cicero what damage had been done to the Republic. With her gone, there was no one to comfort him in the loss of the Republic.
She gives the common reasons for Caesar’s murder but adds that Caesar put a gilded statue of Cleopatra in the Temple of Venus. To say the least this was very un-republican. He also paraded Cleopatra about in the city and her son by him, too. This, of course, while his wife looked on.
She tackles the problem of Cicero, a man of law and peace, willing to kill a tyrant. “Tyrannicide was self-defense against a man killing the country.”
This book is full of fine ideas and interesting observations.
Tempest makes the point that here can be no one conclusion of Cicero.
Perhaps this is good. For if discussion ends, debate is over and learning ceases. Cicero would have hated that.
'Dr. Tempest (Roehampton) presents a life of Cicero as orator and politician in the context of the tumultuous final decades of the Roman Republic. This makes the book a very useful guide to the frequently convoluted and often murderous politics of the late Republic. Unlike most scholars of Cicero’s life and work, Tempest gives us a relatively long account of Cicero’s year as governor of Cilicia, during which he took to the field against some hill tribes. Cicero’s little campaign caused him to be proclaimed “imperator – conqueror” by his troops, and is interesting not only because it throws some light on subsequent political events, but also because it illustrates the curious Roman constitutional concept of “imperium.” Although it could use more maps, this is a good read for both those familiar with the period or for those seeking an introduction to Roman political life in the Late Republic. '
For the full review, see StrategyPage.Com
The author is very knowledgeable about Cicero and Rome in his day.
She writes in a very engaging and lively style.
In my estimate this book is better than Everitt's.