Friday, March 5, 2010


Version at BMCR home site
Tom Stevenson, Marcus Wilson (ed.), Cicero's Philippics: History, Rhetoric and Ideology. Prudentia 37-38. Auckland, N.Z.: Polygraphia, 2008. Pp. x, 374. ISBN 9781877332562. NZ $80.00 (pb).
Reviewed by John Henderson, King's College, Cambridge

This worthwhile collection doubles as a double number of Prudentia, founded on a nucleus of papers presented at a 2003 Auckland conference, and now bulked up to include eight from Stevenson's Australia and four from journal editor Wilson's New Zealand; rest of the world, five. The distribution of topics has worked out well, though there is precious little interaction between papers. Both production and copy-editing are excellent.1


The editors' introduction briskly cues current themes of interest before previewing the chapters to come. Syme's delation[-cum-salutation] of Philippics as "imperill[ing]historical judgement and wreck[ing] historical perspective" threads through the collection as prompt to re-interrogate the history of the "Roman Revolution" in terms of the sub-title's watchwords of "Rhetoric" and "Ideology" (or "ideas" and "values", as the intro puts it, p. 5). And, I should add, "Literature" is also involved, in its role as vehicle of political oratory, and standard-bearer of the politics of oratory: that moral is reserved for the last contribution, which doubles for editorial conclusion and even keynote, laying it on the line. Unfashionably, perhaps, "reception" is unaddressed by the volume between Elder Seneca and Syme.

The Latin will all be translated, but the essays envisage an audience fronting up to this engagée suite of texts very much "in the original". Where primary materials survive in such abundance that the lurches through this crisis for once unroll by the week, it's much easier to give way to re-telling and causerie, but the challenge of the Philippics is to generate sufficient cumulative impetus to surge readers through the whole corpus. (Cf. Jon Hall's "companion" essay for Brill.)2 The speeches take up two-thirds of an OCT volume, no more, no less, but the count to fourteen makes them stack up in prospect, and the double whammy of Ph2 as on the one hand lengthiest and most hysterically warped, and on the other hand undelivered fakes up just when the promise is blow-by-blow authenticity on the line, bears down on the reader just when the showdown really cuts loose in Ph3 and goes for it. (The fault line stands between Ph1-2 in the old Denniston "Oxford Red" or John Ramsey's fresh "Green and Yellow", and the revisionary ratio of Gesine Manuwald's brand-new de Gruyter edition of Ph3-9, on which see below.) Detection of an overall compositional design is critical, and the collection will both start by meeting this challenge head on and, after a central bloc presenting various takes on concepts and slogans in play, wind up with a run of bids to vindicate the differential identifiers of the components.

A patient reader will find individuating rhetorical aims, axes, and hatchets offered for almost all the speeches somewhere in the course of this programme. Throughout, the tension between our implication in the high drama of self-martyrdom for real and the shifts and feints involved in the elder statesman's attempt to finesse its necessity sets the pace: along the way, the pitch, venue, and dare elicit ad rem purpureal flash, provoke ad hominem scurrilous squabble, stretch ad hoc Latin capability to ([va]in)glory-be.


Kelly reviews the release of speeches selected from the Antonian sequence, arguing that urgency pushed Cicero into a recent-or-novelty practice of rapidfire release for instant traction and empirewide distribution response, shipping out straight to tyrannicides, brass hats, militia bosses, and governors, besides stand-by Atticus and other advisers. He examines the processes involved (en route cautioning against Shackleton Bailey's rendering of perscribo, "write/send a full account" at Ad fam. 5.4.2, as "send the text", 15.6.1, as "send a copy", pp.28-9), and contrasts the smarmy buried threats of Ph1 uttered in Antony's vicinity (further excavated by Stevenson in a new Ramus essay) with Ph2's point-by-point dismantling of Antony's rejoinder, which issues into un-curially demonic tyrant-scourging appropriate for broadside pamphleteering. Kelly stresses ancient Glossary references extending through to a Ph16 -- where Manuwald reports a 17th (p.40). Diagramming -- and putting in touch -- various schemes on offer, she capably backs Wilfried Stroh's championing of an original-authorial set of a dozen Philippics to match the Demosthenic dirty dodekatheon: Ph3-14.3 Pairs match Ph3 and 4, as successful sentential plus subsequent reporting contio, or breaking news spin, and 5 and 6, as unsuccessful sentential plus recuperation contio. With 3, the campaign to get Antony outlawed begins; with 5, the year 43 begins, and the counter-move for a (second) "saving" embassy is then contested through 9; 10-11 respond to news from the East and henchmen; 12-14 return to Italy and Antony himself, until our edition stops with the crowing over the first victory at Mutina, a week before Antony was finally declared hostis, thus completing Cicero's drive. Speeches culled to box our set are listed and signs of cannibalizing raked over, and this scrupulous review makes sure to double-check for redundancy, nicely distinguishing Ph4 from 6 as "the biggest meeting ever" from "the most unanimous meeting ever". Just as 1-2 may be preliminary antefixes or proemial, so further phases could be cash-outs or add-on postlude. Within the suite, Cicero nails himself to "war" on the "enemy", consistently claiming a monopoly on consistency as he stymies the proposed embassy until events overtake. Ph9 on Sulpicius Rufus' decease in the course of the first embassy helps kill the repeat and curse Antony, twinning with 11 on Antony's stand-in Dolabella's execution of Trebonius to the same end. Manuwald ends by applauding the closural fitness of Ph14, as the orator senator is poised for a "result", his last, before gun-battles and force of arms clinch this particular round in the struggle. She could add, however, that Cicero has already by now talked up and into being an infernally ominous shadow "triumvirate", the short-lived consuls plus the new Caesar in short trousers, in a climax of ill-advised jubilation (Ph14.28, 37, trium imperatorum uirtute; 28, decerno ergo eorum trium nomine quinquaginta dierum supplications).


Evans unpacks the dynamics of Cicero's strategy of tiered demonization of Catiline upon Clodius on top of Antony, built on real enough linkage (esp. through Fulvia) and gathering purchase through themes of lust, booze, sloth and a gladiator's musculature. He flies Peter Wiseman's Symean kite that Antony must himself have bragged of liens with the others, before exploring rehabilitations of Antony from Day One through Plutarch to Syme.4 Cicero comes away with a bit part, summoning up his, perhaps their, "phantoms" to help pretend he's in control. Drum starts from the pairing of Ph10-11 pumping elation at Brutus' victory over L. Antonius and then offering Cassius command against Dolabella, in counter-offensive to Syme's claim that the tyrannicides "were unprepared". A round-up describes "a team effort, the planning situated well before the Ides" (sc. of 44). The idiom comes closest here to traditional "political history", envisaging (along with several other contributors, though conspicuously not e.g. Angel, p.122, or Welch, p.208) what seem to me to be implausibly consolidated and perdurable factions, "the Caesarian Senators" and their opponents ("the Pompeians", etc.) through what was surely a molten crisis of deadly rupture in the late Hombre's entourage mutating into rapidly shifting hook-ups and repositionings around emerging issues and events. (A tendency summed up in spades with "There was a consistent policy of the Parthians that was sympathetic to the Republican cause", p.89n.) The proposition is that Cicero's presentation of achieved and in-the-bag success in the East as sudden and unexpected was play-acting to enhance effect.


Stevenson's own essay follows up earlier work on the image-repertoire of patriarchy in Roman political discourse: the tyrant cat-calling of Ph2 and 13 figures elsewhere implicitly in the coded attributes of the good father of his fatherland flock (Tully the pater patriae) over against the bad dad dominating, abusing and degrading fellow citizens (Antony as would-be Caesar, Caesar as so-called parens -- pa's clement side -- patriae). We are treated to a generous gazette of stereotype smears used to nail Antony, as Cicero talks his consulate up and Antony's down. Next, a doubleton on Ph2: Angel takes apart the equation of clemency with tyrannical ascendancy at work against its backdrop in Julius' powerplay, tossing into the mix the armature of three telling coins (but sadly this is an unillustrated volume). Pitcher rapidly sifts for the panoply of oligarchic positives and minuses within which the rhetoric maintains, and re-affirms, persistent collective "senatorial" values.


A row of "ideological" topics next address the whole corpus: Cowan does Freedom, i.e. the play made with Libertas in jockeying for hegemony organized around claims to know what's best for Rome suitably attuned to different audiences. Christian reopens the vexed question of "legitimacy", arguing against Syme that undercutting, let alone countermanding, decisions reached by due process was no cinch, as with Caesar's acts (accepted by Cicero and all) so with business conducted by a consul with a favourable senate: if amnesty might hope to cope with a dictator's assassination, still not so easy to mask the raising of a private army, stirring up mutinous troops and their retiring commander against a succeeding proconsul assuming his assigned province. Appeals to some conjured higher legality ("true glory") in esp. Ph3 need retrospective rescue through official outlawing of Antony, which will require setting aside the senate as then incompetent, recovering its authority in the out-turn: legitimating insurgency will legitimate the senate. (Christian's analogy is with the Bush administration's treatment of the U.N., p.162n.).5 Larsen works out from the so-called s.c.u. as massaged in Ph2 to review its invocation in the Philippics set against representations in other speeches, as Cicero moves from exemplary hero of carte blanche executive repression to its scold (and the next victim). The ideologeme Felicitas also features in Ph2, as pandemically through all the Late Republic hoo-hah, and it takes Welch's essay the long way round to show how the cuckoo pamphlet "speech" dispenses with Cicero's usual façade of civility toward Julius' memory: what must rub off on Antony is Caesar's unluck.


Stone inserts a dose of philosophy, with a lecture on the currency of the Panaetian Foursome of Cardinal Virtues at Rome, before scrutiny of Ph1 (for "True Glory" uplift), 9 (in Sulpicius' obituary), and esp. 3 and 5 (for lubricating the golden boy Caesar's entrée to the big time; invocation of Alexander "the Kid" of Macedon at 5.48 was not a good moment!, p.225). We need the reminder that De officiis was a-writing in this very same semester of warmongering, even if it is bound to be either too tough or too easy to pin passages voicing praise or vicing blame to oratorical encryptions of the tetradic system. Can Stone persuade us that the finale to Ph2 refuses even to deign to measure Julius's failings with the cardinal terms? Yes, by urging that the broadside must be dismantling claims to the four virtues on the part of Antony's speechwriting team. (The essay pushes on to fit Antony to the post-Panaetian grid operative in Plutarch and Dio.) Corbeill brings on a spot of hocus pocus in the form of Roman exorcism rhetoric plus, he submits, performativity. Setting out a blueprint for the process of prodigy expiation, he makes a surprisingly muted claim for Ph13's concluding talk of ejection beyond the city walls as ritually active insult, the way I hear it, loud and loaded.


The run-in dedicated to individual speeches begins with Steel stirring Ph6 into life. How will Cicero cope with glossing his losing bid to scotch the proposed embassy to parlay with Antony one last time? He'll damn and doom the project by graphic rabble-rousing (paraded as such by the "calming" finale) turned on the hitherto popular hero and much-statufied -- over yonder! -- L. Antonius, now just out of office and on his way, with his land commission freshly ... rescinded. This, trust Cicero, must be what matters, not that pinprick legation nonsense. (This strategy is the mirror-image of Ph7, where, as Hall will note, p.288, the speech capitalizes on the right to speak on any matter in the course of delivering a sententia on the topic under referral to the senate by hijacking humdrum debate on roads and public funding to insert an extra assault on Antony, before undigressing at 27 with a sardonic bare "Aye": quibus de rebus refers, P. Seruilio adsentior!) Dawes shows how encomium of Brutus in Ph10 trades in apologetics likely anticipated in Brutus' own musings De uirtute and De patientia, melding the moral traditions of the family headed by L. Brutus the Liberator with noble philosophical indifference to mere location and patriotic self-subordination to the national interest, all to back up, nay: sanctify, his withdrawal from Rome: here Cicero faces down the (no doubt matching) claims of the Antonii in high and mighty strains. Immediately there follows Ph11's (unsuccessful) bid to appoint the far less puff-prolific buddy Cassius, which releases raw snide abuse of Dolabella and his butchery out there. Hall's gem on Ph12 caps the lot for melodramatics, though I don't buy his case for a coup de théâtre of scripted "reaction". Cicero continues his vitriol against the misbegotten never in a month of Sundays embassy to Antony, then ridicules the inclusion of his prestigious senior consular self on said legation, but finally muddies the waters by telling us he'll have to go give the matter some more thought. What is going on? Hall turns over several possibilities for the segmented tergiversation, before plumping for ekphrastic textualization of improv. speechifying (cf. e.g. Ph6.12, ad p. R., rursus reclamatis? .. clamori enim uestro adsentior, etc.): the changes of tack preserve authentic thinking on his feet dictated by frigid reception sinking the arguments as he tried them out/on. This reporter would go instead for bluff and double-bluff, the entrapment of needing to be in on any action and its perq. of being there to wreck it, now yielding, in good time, to spoiling tactics, scuttling, sabotage, and ultimately straightforward temporizing in the teeth of a blatant bottom line of urgency. No matter, Hall's probing convincingly exposes the thematization, through the politician's shifts to manoeuver, face-save, and butt-cover, of embryonic self-heroics maturing within a shell of due deference to the demands of institutional protocol: when the call comes, senators do what the senate requires of them, at whatever personal cost -- as when poor palpably failing Sulpicius went on that dud first embassy never to return (Ph9): the only over-riding "out" for a public servant appointed to service abroad could only be the indispensability to the national interest of their continued presence in Rome. Which contrives to make a fine ring-a-roses: "Hold Cicero in reserve" had been the Philippics' elusionary opening war-cry (1.38, cf. p.309). The embassy wasn't cancelled yet (Ph13.47, p.303); but Cicero -- what was he being "saved up" for ...?


Wilson puts the Philippics way up high as maybe, by figuring them through old Uncle Seneca's climactic positioning of Cicero's martyrdom and legacy of exemplary writings in Suasoriae 6 and 7; but also -- no less bracingly -- by amplifying the import of Controversiae 7.2, where we join in drilling (the -- aptly named -- fictional) "Popillius" de moribus for his more-than-parricidal massacre of the father of the fatherland's patrimony of political oratory as the heartbeat of non-monarchic civil government. Why pussyfoot around? The combination of the canonized dummy oration, divine Ph2, and its scandalous-scurrilous pyrotechniques worth dying for, with the instantly and irrevocably disseminated mushrooming of dispute over the real stakes of Cicero's exemplarity, is primed for budding Romans and thereafter their Latinate successors (that's us) as exactly that question pressed through the Philippics casebook: what is Cicero "reserved for"? Most of Wilson's impassioned revaluation of declamatory participation in games with backing or bucking Cicero must be dead right (though some of the robustness in his distinction of that scene from historians picking over Cicero's bones strikes me as both flimsy and unnecessary to the argument: what could be more paradedly "fictionalized" than Livy's symbolic-symptomatic vignette of waves and wavering, guts and paralysis?, pp.307-08). For Cicero's final album, this parting shot for the volume puts to shame, with the editor's customary gusto, one after another of the variously lily-livered recent critical dilutions of the primal scene of putting your neck on the line, when and only if.

Yes, this collection enhances the suite of speeches, individually and as a concatenation. Both deserve to stand more than a cat in hell's chance of making it onto our reading-lists, onto your prescriptions.

1 Tom Stevenson and Marcus Wilson, Cicero's Philippics: History, Rhetoric and Ideology, 1-21
2 Douglas Kelly, Publishing the Philippics, 44-43 BC, 22-38
3 Gesine Manuwald, Cicero Versus Antonius: On the Structure and Construction of the Philippic Collection, 39-61
4 Richard Evans, Phantoms in the Philippics: Catiline, Clodius and Antonian Parallels, 62-81
5 Martin Drum, Cicero's Tenth and Eleventh Philippics: The Republican Advance in the East, 82-94
6 Tom Stevenson, Tyrants, Kings and Fathers in the Philippics, 95-113
7 Natalie Angel, Clementia and Beneficium in the Second Philippic, 114-30
8 Roger A. Pitcher, The Second Philippic as a Source of Aristocratic Values, 131-39
9 Eleanor Cowan, Libertas in the Philippics, 140-52
10 Emily Christian, A Philosophy of Legitimacy in Cicero's Philippics, 153-67
11 Julian Larsen, Cicero, Antony and the Senatus Consultum Ultimum in the Second Philippic, 168-80
12 Kathryn Welch, Nimium felix: Caesar's Felicitas and Cicero's Philippics, 181-213
13 A.M. Stone, Greek Ethics and Roman Statesmen: De Officiis and the Philippics, 214-39
14 Anthony Corbeill, O Singulare Prodigium: Ciceronian Invective as a Religious Expiation, 240-54
15 Catherine Steel, Finessing Failure: the Sixth Philippic, 255-65
16 Tia Dawes, The Encomium of Brutus in Philippic Ten, 266-81
17 Jon Hall, The Rhetorical Design and the Success of the Twelfth Philippic, 282-304
18 Marcus Wilson, Your Writings or Your Life: Cicero's Philippics and Declamation, 305-34


1.   Errors are rare: p.ix singulari prodigium; p.18 prodigium monstrum; p.83 cecedit; p.135 libidine causa; p.169 uoluntaries ... contemtumne; p.170 in suo anno; p.178 concitatio for -ato; p.189 Rutilio for -ii; p.192 breathing on Athenas; p.220 Servius for Sulpicius x 2; p.305 Mark Anthony. English translation is provided throughout, flat but accurate, with few lapses: p.74 uis = wished; p.166 in ciue an in hoste figantur = should be plunged into a citizen or into an enemy; p.192 Greek pose= spanis = How pitiful; p.199 quod esset = who was consul, officio suo conuenire = was his concern; p.206 these the gift of Virtus, the rest of Fortuna = haec a Virtute donata, cetera a Fortuna commodata; p.212 But I pass over = sed omittatur; p.306 the worst = postremum; p.321 ingenium = works x 2. One or two typos in the Bibliography: Degl'Innocenti Pierini: pirma ... Lucie d ; den Boeft: Impertoria; De Ranieri: Revista italiana; Drummond: Conpirators; Gelzer: Halband (with inconsistent refs to RE). Use of Sh-B numeration for Cicero's letters (e.g. by Angel, otherwise only patchy) is now an occupational hazard in this scholarship: it's surely not too late to bury this, Quirites.
2.   "The Philippics", in J. M. May ed. (2002) Brill's Companion to Cicero: Oratory and Rhetoric, Leiden: 273-304.
3.   E.g. "Ciceros Philippische Reden. Politischer Kampf und literarische Imitation", in M. Hose ed. (2002) Meisterwerke der antiken Literatur. Von Homer bis Boethius, Munich: 76-102.
4.   T. P. Wiseman (1974) Cinna the Poet and Other Roman Essays, Leicester: 137.
5.   One thing I don't follow (p.166): "Unfortunately for Cicero, what the Philippics demonstrated was that in times of political turmoil legality carried more sway than philosophical ideas of right".

1 comment:

  1. For 'fakes up' read 'fake up' (or 'fake-up') and then the sentence makes sense. editorial processing also accounts for 'sentential' twice later on.



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