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Cicero’s Philosophical Rhetoric

RICCIARDI, VALERIO (2024) Cicero’s Philosophical Rhetoric. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The modern scholarly debate on the relation between rhetoric and philosophy in Cicero originates in the work of Hans von Arnim, who introduced two key ideas that informed subsequent interpretations of Cicero’s De Oratore: 1) Cicero’s reconciliation of rhetoric and philosophy is inspired by a single Greek source (Philo of Larissa); 2) Cicero’s De Oratore belongs to the Greek debate on education (Bildung). Many scholars disagreed with von Arnim on which Greek source should be regarded as Cicero’s main inspiration; in contrast, another philological tradition rightly emphasized that Cicero provided his own synthesis of different sources. However, this second tradition operates within von Arnim’s conceptual framework insofar as it interprets the relation between rhetoric and philosophy as a Latin chapter of the ancient debate on Bildung that is primarily addressed in Cicero’s rhetorical writings. This reading paradoxically divorces rhetoric from rhetoric from Cicero’s philosophy. Against von Arnim’s interpretation, this thesis will investigate the relationship between rhetoric and philosophy as a general trait of Cicero’s way of philosophizing, emphasizing that the interaction between these two disciplines cannot be limited to the interaction between form and content, but is something that informs the very content of his philosophy. Accordingly, I will show how this interaction plays a key role in the following issues, which are addressed throughout the whole Ciceronian corpus: 1) the role of speech in Cicero’s conception of human nature and sociability; 2) the right balance between the contemplative and active life and Cicero’s conception of the statesman; 3) the interaction between Academic scepticism and rhetoric, which significantly affects Cicero’s way of assessing and reworking the philosophical doctrines advanced by other schools. This inquiry will show that rhetoric plays a larger and more pervasive role in Cicero’s philosophical and political thought than it is usually assumed, helping us truly appreciate the distinctiveness of his way of philosophizing.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Ancient Philosophy; Roman Philosophy; Cicero; Philosophical Rhetoric; Philosophical Anthropology; Political Thought; Academic Scepticism
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 May 2024 10:40

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