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date: 07 March 2021

Tullius Cicero, Marcus, speecheslocked

, the famous orator Cicero
  • Jonathan G. F. Powell

Extract

Fifty-eight speeches of Cicero survive in whole or part; numerous others were unpublished or lost (88 are recorded by Crawford).

Cicero's normal practice, if he decided to publish a speech, was to ‘write up’ (conficere) a version after the event. In one case we know that he delivered a speech from a script (Post reditum in senatu); otherwise it seems that only a few important passages, chiefly the exordium and peroration, were written out in extenso beforehand. The published versions of court speeches in many instances certainly represent a shortened version of the actual proceedings, as shown by Humbert; the examination of witnesses is largely omitted, and some sections of argumentation are represented only by headings. The extent to which Cicero changed the content or emphasis of his speeches when preparing them for publication is disputed. It has been thought that the speeches were regularly altered to suit the political circumstances of the time of publication, rather than the time of delivery. On the other hand, it has been pointed out that Cicero's overt reason for publication was to provide examples of successful oratory for posterity to imitate and admire, and this would naturally place limits on the degree of alteration that could reasonably be made, as would the presence among his readership of a substantial number of those who had been present at the delivery of the speech.

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