Rhetoric and Pedagogy: Its History, Philosophy, and Practice: Essays in Honor of James J. Murphy

By Winifred Bryan Horner; Michael Leff | Go to book overview

Chapter 2 Cicero's Response to the Philosophers in De oratore, Book 1

Robert Gaines University of Maryland In their recent and authoritative commentary on De oratore, Leeman and Pinkster propose that book 1 is a disputatio in utramque partem which discloses a skeptical suspension of judgment by Cicero regarding the main positions represented in the book.1 Thus, within their view, when Crassus' position that the orator must know all important matters and arts is challenged by Antonius, who says the orator has no time and no need to acquire such knowledge, this is Cicero's device for showing that both accounts are probable and neither may be chosen with any certainty.2

Despite the obvious attractions of tis proposal, I find it unacceptable on several grounds. One has to do with Cicero's comments related to the discussion of Crassus and Antonius at the outset of book 2. Noting that Crassus chose a reputation for looking down on learning whereas Antonius disdained appearance of any study at all, Cicero remarks in his own voice at section 5 as follows: "What was the prudence of these choices, pertains not at all to the present; however, the following is for this composition undertaken and this time to say, that no one has ever been able to shine and excel at eloquence, not just without

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1
Anton D. Leeman and Harm Pinkster, De oratore libri III/Kommentar, vol. 1 ( Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, 1981) 11-12; compare A. D. Leeman, "The Structure of Cicero's De oratore I", Ciceroniana: Hommages à Kazimierz Kumaniecki, ed. Alain Michel and Raoul Verdière, Roma Aeterna, 9 ( Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975) 148-149.
2
Leeman and Pinkster, Kommentar11; see also Leeman ("Structure" 149), who understands the disputatio in utramque partem as reflecting Cicero's adherence to Academic methods (on the principles of Academic inquiry, consult, e.g., Cicero, Academica 1.45-46, 2.124).

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