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Chapter 7 - The Voice of a Faction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 August 2020

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Summary

Cicero claims to represent all right-thinking citizens, the boni, associated with an ideology of traditionalism, as opposed to the populares, whom he describes as a few seditious and degenerate outliers. This reflects a partisan rhetoric associated with the so-called optimates, even though it rests on the paradoxical claim that there are not two similar parties at all. In De Domo Sua and Pro Sestio, Cicero’s partisan rhetoric construes the optimates as having a monopoly on legitimacy, particularly on the legitimate use of violence as a political tool. In a letter to his brother in 56 BCE, Cicero gives a revealing report of an episode in which Clodius and Pompey were addressing simultaneous, partisan contiones. In the Philippics Cicero reflects on the role of factions in the 50s and attempts to resurrect his polarizing rhetoric in order to brand Antony a popularis and therefore an undesirable leader.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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