, “The Persuader” Essay, Research Paper

Cicero, ?The Persuader?

Born in 106 BC, at Arpirnum, about 60 miles southeast of Rome, Marcus Tullius Cicero became one of the greatest orators to come out of the Roman Empire. If asked of the defining characteristics of a Roman, you might say a Roman was someone who took pride in being loved and adored by his people. Most Romans gained this renown fame by winning wars and bringing home great treasures, but Cicero managed to do this instead through his speeches and convincing people he was a great Roman figurehead. He used his oral expertise as a road to success by making Roman citizens either feel sorry for him and pitying him, making himself out to be a model citizen in hopes that others would follow suit, and presenting himself as a tool of the Roman people. A tool being defined as a civil servant and giving himself to the people and state for their welfare and not his. As the many Caesar?s, and Sulla?s, and Marius? fought to obtain their glory, Cicero moved the masses with his eloquent words. He glorified Romans in his speeches in hopes that others would be thankful and gratuitas towards him. In other words he initiated the back scratching and hoped that the favor would be returned someday so that he may grow in his own dignitas.

Among the many oratory tactics Cicero used to persuade people to view things as he did, he made himself look pitiful in the eyes of hie audience. It is common knowledge that Cicero was not the bravest of Romans, and it was not often, if at anytime, that he laughed in the face of his opponents and defied death. Throughout the Catiline conspiracy Cicero told his many audiences of the threat to his life by Lucius Sergius Catilina.

?But now that I am stricken through and through with terror, entirely because of yourself, now that every sound I hear inspires me with dread of Catilina, now that your evil spirit is behind every sort of conspiracy against my life, I can bear it no longer.? (pg. 81)

Cicero gives his audience an account of the way in which he went uncovering this state-threatening plot. (pages 113-117) Cicero must have been a smart man. He prepared his speech to the public assembly in such a way that he gained the pity of his fellow Romans. Afterwards he goes on to talk about the fact that despite the danger to himself, he ultimately put down the conspiracy alone. By placing these two events in this order (in his speech) he moves the public?s mood from one end of the spectrum, pity, to the opposite end, admiration. Admiration for the fact that he quelled this problem. In doing so, the crowd?s admiration, was seemingly increased and this is what Cicero wanted. He milked the conspiracy for all it was worth. He told his fellow citizens that he was always aware of Catiline?s actions and that he had taken many cautious steps to prevent any harmful actions against himself.

?Catilina, I employed no official guard to defend me, but only my own private security measures?.I thwarted your murderous scheme by the assistance and resources of my friends, without raising any public alarm of war?.I was well aware that my death would be a disaster to our state, I employed only my own unaided endeavours to frustrate your plots.?(pg. 82)

Cicero made it a point to tell the public the danger he was in at that time and by doing this he made his people worrry for him and in turn support him.

Cicero also appears to be a very moral citizen. In the public eye he is careful to not make any ?dumb? decisions as like any politician. He announces, to his audience, that he does have high moral standards and that he is a reputable citizen. ?thing in life is really worth having except moral decency and reputable behavior??(pg. 155) A prime reason for Cicero to keep his nose clean is so he will be trustworthy and believable in arguments that may be questionable. In Cicero?s speech defending the poet Archias he tries to convince the court, based on Cicero?s good standing and faith, that Archias is indeed what he says he is.

?To incline you to my way of thinking, gentlemen, I will place myself in your hands and confess to you my own passion to be famous?.to ensure the salvation of this city and the empire and the lives of all its citizens and everything that our country stands for, have been chosen by Archias as the subject of a poem.? (pg. 162)

By saying this to the court, Cicero is implying that the poet Archias is indeed a true Roman citizen because Archias takes so strong of a position in his poems. Again, Cicero reminds his listeners his outstanding behavior and virtue in hopes that they too would see why he is supporting Archias. In his speech supporting Marcus Claudius Marcellus, Cicero portrays Marcellus as being much like himself so that Caesar and the senate will gladly take him back as they took back Cicero. ?For I had found it a source of profound pain and grief, Senators, that a man of this caliber, who had supported the same cause as I, should have suffered so different a fate.? (pg. 281) Cicero meant that Marcellus should be reinstated from exile, just as Cicero was and because of the same qualities. Being of solid, moral, character, Cicero tries to present himself as a great political example of doing things the right way.

Among the other attributes Cicero ascribes to himself is public service. In his political speeches one examines that he is always doing something for the people or for the state.

?I declare that my one thought has been for the interests of Rome?I have decided I must regard my own private interests and advantages as insignificant in comparison with your will, and the welfare of our country, and the safe preservation of the provinces and allies of the Roman state.? (pg. 70)

Cicero explains to his audience that he puts them first and foremost in all that he does. In Cicero?s support of Pompey he tells the senate how devoted he is to them by preparing only the best of speeches for them, ??and I formed the determination never to bring you anything but the maturest and most carefully worked out contributions.? (pg. 35), and that he puts every effort into everything he has.

?For my part, whatever keenness, intelligence, energy or ability I may possess?or whatever I can achieve by means of any influence, loyalty and resolution of my own, all these assets, I swear, will be put at the disposal of yourself and Rome, and dedicated to the task of bringing this purpose of ours into effect.? (pg. 69)

Cicero, here, swears his allegiance to his people and by doing this earns their respect and their support. During his uncovering of the Catiline conspiracy, Cicero says to the senate, ?I watch for the safety of our country far more keenly even than you watch for its destruction.? (pg. 80) He makes it clear that he is making every effort, no matter the danger to himself, that he be the protector of Rome and all its peoples, as any great consul would do. ?should long ago have eliminated Lucius Catilina, at the risk of my own popularity or even my life.? (pg. 95) Again he expresses that the state comes first. Cicero, by making these statements, gains the favor of his fellow Romans, and that is what he wants, their simple support and devotion.

Whichever way Cicero decided to employ his oral talents, whether it be to gain publicity or in the very interests of Rome herself, or both, he did so in a manner that won over the respect of the Roman people. In his speeches, he controlled the emotional feelings of the crowd and managed to persuade them to his opinion. Cicero makes his good impressions on his subjects and makes a lot of political connections. One could say that the Roman justice system was based on these connections. ?I scratch your back and sometime in the near future you can scratch my back.? It may also be said that if you get me this job for the provincial governor, then when I am visiting Greece in the near future I will get those statues you wanted.* Since Cicero had all these connections he remained in the popular seat, but as soon as the republic started to fade away, and his personal allies were eliminated, his power started to fade and his opponents rose in power and he was exiled and eventually murdered.


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