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Forum Antiquum Lecture Spring 2023: 'Tempori serviendum est: Cicero’s public voice under the dictatorship of Julius Caesar'

Thursday 23 March 2023
Forum Antiquum Lectures Series Spring 2023
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

In September 47 BCE Cicero received the pardon of Julius Caesar for siding with Pompey during the Civil War. This act of clemency allowed Cicero to return to Rome, where Caesar ruled as dictator. In this context, Cicero acted as a mediator between Caesar and those who had served under Pompey in order to secure them Caesar’s clementia. Three speeches, commonly known as Caesarian Orations, noticeably attest to this new commitment. As a response to the limitations of freedom of speech imposed by the dictatorship, Cicero does not address Caesar explicitly but employs an ambiguous language that conceals hidden meanings behind the surface. The Caesarian Orations usher in an innovative form of communication intermingling praise, advice, admonition and subtle criticism. Even by leaving things unsaid, Cicero can convey a powerful message which is left to the hearer to discover. In addition to showing Cicero’s prowess in the art of speaking, this rhetoric accomplishes a new form of persuasion that suits the reality of Caesar’s domination.

Giovanni Margiotta is a PhD Candidate in Latin Language and Literature at Radboud University Nijmegen. His PhD research deals with the rhetorical strategies of Cicero’s Caesarian Orations. His publication record includes a review of F. Berardi, La retorica degli esercizi preparatori (2017) and an article on the controversia in Fronto’s correspondence (Rhetorica 2021). Furthermore, he has a forthcoming Brill publication about the reception of Cicero’s speeches in the scholiastic tradition, edited by Christoph Pieper and Dennis Pausch. An article presenting some results of his doctoral research will soon be published by Giornale Italiano di Filologia.

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