Cicero's Orations Background

Cicero's Orations Background

The orations of the Roman lawyer Cicero are still available and read today because rhetorical arguments were very highly regarded. As an attorney presenting his arguments, Cicero would be called upon to display his oratorical skills outdoors in a court with a jury could potentially number more than 50 members. Audiences would attend these hearings and actually transcribe the words spoken into written text. Fifty-eight of these exhibitions of oratorical skill are extant today in various form of completion and over the centuries they have been instrumental in the forming the means and methods of presenting speeches design to convince juries, legislatures and audiences of kinds.

The most famous of Cicero’s orations are those delivered against the machinations of Lucius Catiline. Almost single-handedly, Cicero proved that the power of the spoken could put an end to a political conspiracy. Another conspiracy is at the center of fourteen famous orations. After the assassination of Caesar, Cicero aligned himself with the anti-Caesar faction to produce what became known as Philippics target Mark Antony and paint a portrait of him as beyond redemption and of reprehensible character.

Antony’s response proved words were not all-powerful: a bounty placed on Cicero’s head ended with that head disengaged from its body literally being put on display at the Forum. Nevertheless, it is Cicero’s actual words that have influenced the art of rhetoric while Mark Antony’s most speech was ghostwritten by Shakespeare.

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