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V THE FINAL YEARS The Loss and Recovery of Independence, and the Ethos of a Patriot In such an upheaval, in such confusion of events, we must look to situations , not customary procedures. (Philippics 11.27) An eloquent man, my boy, eloquent and a lover of his country. (Plutarch Cicero 49) "Oratory is both an instrument and an emblem of civitas, and Rome was no longer a civitas."l This statement succinctly describes the oratorical and political situation in which Cicero operated during the last decade or so of his life and career. The extraordinary political upheaval, the brutal politics of those in power, and the general chaos that resulted during the 50S and 40S had a profound effect on the Roman Republic and on its oratory, a genre inextricably bound to historical and political events, "an art in which dignitas and humanitas are of the essence."2 Character as a source of persuasive material nevertheless remains important; in fact, ethos in a speech composed under these circumstances is often granted an added dimension. The character of the power or powers that be, looms over the persuasive process; it can stand aloof, actively enter in, or intimidate from afar. At any rate, its presence is felt and the response that the orator makes to it is more often than not based in ethos or in its close relative, pathos. Cicero, the Republic's premier orator, suffered not a little humiliation and anxiety as an unsympathetic and less than willing pawn at the hands of the Roman autocrats. He struggled throughout this time to maintain, without overstepping his bounds, an ethos in possession of some dignitas.3 Once the fetters of the dictatorship had been loosed on the Ides of March in 44, however, the orator again found himself involved in the crisis, a crisis tantamount to a fight for existence, both for himself and the Republic.4 The character he presents so forcefully throughout the Philippics is that of a Roman patriot in full stature, "a great, vigorous, and memorable man,"5 a man who is "eloquent and a lover of his country."6 The portrait of his antagonist, Antony, set in diametric opposition to his own, is the denial of all that is Roman and human. These two characters, writ large, present the Roman audience with a choice, hard and fast, between right and wrong, good and evil, light and darkness, Roman and un-Roman, freedom and slavery.7 As a result of the overwhelming emphasis that he places on this juxtaposition, it is perhaps here, in his final speeches, that ethos is granted its freest rein as a source for persuasive material in the oratory of Cicero. 129 PRO T. ANNIO MILONE Cicero's speech on behalf of Milo, who as tribune in 57 had worked for Cicero's recall and at whose hands Clodius, Cicero's archenemy, had been slain, presages several of the conditions of oratory under the eye of a dictator or emperor.8 Pompey, extraconstitutionally the sole consul of 52, sat aloof on the steps of the Treasury, his true sentiments unknown to the people and to the pleader. The Forum was crowded and Pompey's armed guard surrounded him. Their weapons, glittering in the sunlight, cast a strange, unaccustomed light on the proceedings.9 Cicero, sole counsel for Milo, was forced to speak his defense under a legal procedure, enacted by Pompey, that was novel and restrictive for the speaker. The Republican orator, visibly shaken by the strangeness of these circumstances, lost confidence and the delivery of his speech was not equal to the challenge.10 Milo was convicted. The speech as transmitted to us is an extraordinary rhetorical composition,l1 often relying upon presentation of character for its effectiveness. As we have come to expect, Cicero introduces the major characters of the drama immediately. Milo, "the bravest of men" (1), is marked by patriotism and greatness of spirit (16); he is a loyal supporter of Cicero and the boni (5). The orator himself confesses his uneasiness at the sight of the Forum (2), but expresses his confidence in his case, and in the wisdom of Pompey, whom he characterizes as "a most wise and upright man" (2). Polarization of the two conflicting sides begins immediately as Cicero identifies himself (d. also 5) and the onlookers with Milo; their interests, their families, their fortunes, their lives, are no less at The Final Years 13° Trials of Character stake than the defendant's (3...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469616322
Related ISBN
9780807817599
MARC Record
OCLC
868976113
Pages
224
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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