Cicero’s oration in defense of M. Caelius Rufus shows many substantive and stylistic borrowings from the Roman Theater, particularly the comedies of the 2nd century b.c.e. This would scarcely seem remarkable to Cicero, to employ such devices is only to make use of the tools of his trade, as a practical and practicing rhetorician. In this case using the theater as a framing device to guide his audience’s response.
So too would the judgments and emotions existing in the cultural reservoir of Greco-Roman, or Attic-Latin stage have met his division of purpose as he considered the permanent written speech, he would set down in the wake of the trial, however it was decided. Half a year back from exile and taking a case where he faced by proxy a personal enemy. Cicero wanted a note that would not only sound loudly when struck, but continue to reverberate. His message needed to rise clear of the verdict of the particular case.
Cicero was formally trained as a rhetorician - in Athens -at the Academy. To Cicero oratory was an all pervading endeavor. It was speaking to an audience for a purpose. He seems to accept the prevailing Greek definition of oratory as that division of speech concerned with legal cases and public debates (Cicero, Orator I 6, 22-23). without seeing it as distinct or separate from other speech as not to involve commonality.
In On the Orator I it is debated at one point whether oratory truly involves a comprehensive search for the good, or does the Orator merely use an appearance of the truth for effectiveness as part of a natural art or learned set of techniques (Cicero, Orator I 10, 42). Crassus’ somewhat dry answer to Scavola is to observe th...
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...pation and eminently transferable in its ability to move and direct the emotions of a audience. This is what we see him putting into practice in the Oration Pro Caelia.
– In defense of Marcus Caelius Rufus. Political Writings of Cicero. – (from the Course Packet)
Beacham, Richard C. Later Stages and Stagings. The Roman Theater and its Audience. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ Press, 1992.
Cicero, M. Tullius. On the Orator- book I. Cicero: On the Good Life. trans., ed. Michael Grant. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971.
Duckworth, George E. The Nature of Roman Comedy: A Study in Popular Entertainment. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1951
Nesbit, R.G.M. the Orator and the Reader: Manipulation and response in Cicero’s fifth Verrin. Author and Audience in Latin Literature. Tony Woodman & Jonathan Powell eds. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992
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