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Trials of CharacterThe Eloquence of Ciceronian Ethos$
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James M. May

Print publication date: 1988

Print ISBN-13: 9780807817599

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469616322.001.0001

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The Pre-Consular Speeches

The Pre-Consular Speeches

The Search for a Persona and the Struggle for Auctoritas

(p.13) II The Pre-Consular Speeches
Trials of Character

James M. May

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes the background of Cicero as a fledgling orator. He did not come from a wealthy family but was a good orator who merited an election to office. He was confident in his own abilities, and his ethos struggled against the weight of those who were born in a family with influence and authority. As a young man, he served as an apprentice in the Roman Forum and was very familiar with Roman tradition and the exigencies of Roman social and judicial systems. The speeches of Cicero showed his art and style that made his arguments highly convincing. For example, he would concern himself with the authority, influence, and eloquence that his adversaries had. If he lacked these equal armaments for his speech to fight on an equal footing, he would endeavour to neutralize or undercut his opponent by repeatedly establishing his own case as the underdog, knowing that human character tended to favour the hopeless. By projecting himself as the intelligent champion of the weak, he would gain strength, dignity, and authority.

Keywords:   Cicero, fledgling orator, Roman Forum, speeches of Cicero

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