Cicero's Orations Irony

Cicero's Orations Irony

Persuasion is the tool of both justice and injustice.

Cicero urged his students to be brilliant rhetors, not only because rhetoric is a useful skill in life, but also because there is an ethical issue within the art of persuasion whereby evil men could persuade others to carry on their evil plans. The irony is that through sophistry and corruption, rhetoric itself is a dangerous threat against the good of the community. In the end, it is Cicero's rhetoric that leads to his execution.

The irony of whistleblowing.

Another ironic aspect of Cicero's political career is that he often exposes fellow government members for conspiracy, which sometimes leads to him being heralded as a hero. But sometimes, it leads to execution. The same ethical commitment is sometimes treated like a virtue, and sometimes as a vice, just depending on whose power is at stake.

The irony of politics.

The Roman concept of politics is highly service-oriented. The people were made to think their leaders were like gods, but what Cicero shows that behind closed doors, politics brings out the absolute worst in people—not their best.

The irony of power.

Power itself is an ironic feature of these orations, because there is both a respect for power where it exists, and also a condemnation of the pursuit of power, as seen in In Catilinam.

The irony of subjectivity.

By arguing for Roscio Amerino, Cicero demonstrates nuance, which involves the ironic reversal of the basic facts. Cicero demonstrates his ability to change the minds of people through narrative based, contextual arguments. This shows that truth itself is ironic, because it resists simple explanations.

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