|Domain||Discourse & Rhetoric|
|Date Range||August 2018 - 2020|
|Supervisor(s)||Prof. Bé Breij|
This project focuses on the use of oratio figurata, or figured speech, in Cicero’s corpus. Oratio figurata is defined in several different ways by ancient writers on rhetoric: it can refer simply to an ornate style of speaking, like panegyric, but more often refers to speech which uses innuendo and suggestion to communicate a veiled meaning. This strategy is useful when being direct would put the orator or author in danger, or when frankness would seem impolite or politically incorrect. The innuendo can be subversive or accusatory (but deniable, because it is not explicit), or can be used to help someone else to save face in a delicate situation.
Cicero does not refer to these definitions of figured speech or provide a theory of it in his rhetorical works, but nevertheless uses all of these techniques throughout his corpus. Polite fictions, euphemisms, and the use of humor are particularly important in the letters to his friends, and one part of this project will deal particularly with figured speech in the letter to Lucceius (Fam. 5.12). The other part of this project focuses on Cicero’s handling of Pompey the Great over the course of his career. Previous scholarship has focused especially on the use of innuendo, feigned innocence, and potentially subversive double meanings in the Caesarian orations in particular, when Cicero might not have felt safe expressing his thoughts about Caesar’s dictatorship directly. Cicero also used panegyric tropes and euphemisms of various kinds to support Pompey’s career, and to maintain and defend his own political relationship with Pompey, not because Pompey had threatened him but because it was politically advantageous to take this approach. Research questions include: how did Cicero’s contemporaries perceive the relationship between him and Pompey? How has Cicero’s use of figured speech affected our understanding of the history of this period? How does figured speech fit into the pattern of extraordinary commands and powerful military figures in politics in the late republic?