Making Enemies : The Logic of Immorality in Ciceronian Oratory

Abstract: This thesis examines the role played by the topic of immorality in the extant speeches of the Roman politician Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE)and subsequently in the Roman political culture of the late Republic. It traces the portraits of immorality that Cicero made of his political and forensic enemies throughout his political career and his use of immorality as an argument in the Roman Senate, public assembly, and the courts. Inspired by perspectives from New Cultural History as well as New Historcism, the study approaches accusations of depravity and vice in Cicero's oratory as both culturally coherent and politically relevant, and by searching for the cultural logic behind the use of immorality in Roman oratory seeks to demonstrate the link between immorality and Roman politics. The study shows how Cicero relied on the multifaceted portraits of immorality that he painted of his adversaries and his frequent and varied use of the immorality argument as a means to influence political and forensic decisions. The study furthermore argues that rather than beside the point, claims that rivals were morally depraved were of political importance in ancient Roman oratory and that the immorality argument was employed not only to ridicule or humiliate personal enemies, but was also seen as relevant to political outcomes. Moreover, it is argued that there was an underlying cultural logic on which the orator's arguments relied and that ensured that the topic of immorality made sense to audiences.