Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

Rhodianism in Cicero's Writings

Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

Rhodianism in Cicero's Writings

Article excerpt


Considered one of the most scholarly Romans, Cicero imposed himself as an unequaled orator and inventor of Roman eloquence. It was not a coincidence that Quintilianus affirmed that Cicero was not the name of a person, but the name of eloquence, and Seneca, the Rector, added that Cicero was the only spirit comparable with the empire the Romans offered the world. Cicero's seven works about eloquence consolidate a new oratory direction, the Rhodianism, a fundamental landmark of European rhetoric and an present model for the contemporary scholars who want to know the arts and science secrets of each of his persuasive speech, while due to all his writings (rhetoric and oratory woiks, political and philosophical treatises, letters) Cicero continues to be one of the main pillars of Western expression, thought, and culture.

Keywords: argumentation, Ciceronian rhetoric, controversy, deliberative speech, demonstrative speech, eloquence, judicial speech, orator, oratory, persuasion, rhetoric, rhetoric manners, rhetorical model, topic

In the specialized literature, Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) is considered the most important orator of the ancient Rome as he innovated what nowadays it is called the Ciceronian rhetoric.

After he accomplished an elevated education (in Rome and in Greece), he became a lawyer, an orator, a statesman and a renowned politician, a scholar and a successful writer.1 Considered one of the most cultivated Romans, his writings consist in rhetoric and oratory works, political and philosophical treatises, letters. Cicero worked in all fields of culture, thus his writings were considered during Renaissance and Modem Epoch the creation of a homo universalis.2

It is said that while he was studying rhetoric with Apollonius on Rhodes he gave an outstanding discourse. All the present people applauded him and congratulated the young orator, with the exception of Molon, the school headmaster, who remained sad and meditative. Later the Greek teacher told Cicero: "For now on, the only thing that will remain to my country will be the advantage to know that you have taken the eloquence and carry it to Rome."

Later Marcus Fabius Quintilianus3 affirmed that Cicero was not the name of a person, but the name of eloquence and Seneca, the rector, formulated significantly uttered the dimensions of this personality: "the only spirit comparable with the empire4 the Romans offered the world.

During Cicero's times there were two opposed directions which dominated the eloquence: "the Asianism," and "the atticism."

The Asianism consolidated in the Hellenistic Empire after Alexander Macedón's death as a refined, emphatic, adorned type. In the Asianic oratory we meet two practiced types of oratory: a moderated one which cultivates the cultivated Pathos, moderate tropes, symmetrical periods, temperate gesticulation and musical voice; and an exaggerate one that overbids Pathos, underlines ornaments, cultivates musical and arborescent periods, emphasizes exuberant gesticulation and polychromy of voice.

The other direction, the Atticism, for which the Greek Lysias served as a model, it was an austere and elegant oratory type, without figures of speech. But the Attic direction was not successful in the Roman for a because these types of orators emphasized the logic of ideas and the clarity of style, ignoring effects, avoiding ornaments, using vigorous and short phrases.

By refusing to rally to any of these oratory schools, Cicero created a new direction to represent a synthesis of the Asianic and Attic virtues. This new direction is called "Rhodian" in the memory of Molon from Rhodes, who modulated Cicero's oratory excesses while he was studying in Greece.

Due to this new oratory direction, Cicero consolidates the classicism of the Latin literary poetry. Over centuries, the Asianic and Attic canons will represent the bases of the European Classicism and Romantics.

Cicero is an important path breaker. …

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