Cicero's Style: A Synopsis - PDF Free Download
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In the orations there are slight variations in accidence and spelling. The spelling -ii, however which was recommended by Varro and spread from the Augustan period onwardis not uncommon in manuscripts and now and then seems to be supported by prose rhythm.
Some students will be pleased to know that even Cicero occasionally infringed the laws of our grammar books: Charisius, a 4th century grammarian who used good sources, read poematorum for poematum in the oration Pro Gallio. The same rules apply to vocabulary. The same may be said of Greek words and colloquialisms, which are more common here even 2 Laurand ; the spelling -ii is more readily adopted in adjectives than in nouns; it is attested in poetry from Lucretius onward; Horace sticks to -i, whereas in Ovid -ii is frequent.
Exceptions and borderline cases can always be explained from the context. Furthermore, Cicero avoids in his orations certain words used in his other writings grammaticus, hilarus, philosophari, philosophia, rhetor.
Foreign words give the style an exotic octaphoros, diadema or ironical touch idiota, philosophari. The ratio is similar in the rhetorical treatises. Examples are violent hyperbatons or other drastic interferences in word order. Another feature objectionable in prose is poetic rhythm. In order to eschew dactylic sentence endings, Cicero in his prose even changes the metre of poetic quotations by inserting or rearranging words.
Gardner; for this type of word order, cf. Cicero, therefore, does not depart from common usage, but exploits its stylistic potential. Zillinger, Ciceron.
Ad Familiares 16; In Verrem II 3. This is especially true for his private letters to Atticus, whereas the letters Ad Familiares actually 21 Shipley — Roscius, an actor, s. Pompei the 10th Philippic, and the De Marcello see, however, pp. In his philosophical writings cf.
An example is the frequent use of anaphora and asyndeton, witness In Catilinam 2. The less balanced character of the orations implies a less regular distribution of participles in their text. Neumeister —; Altavilla ; with reference to Majorana However, even in his dialogues he preserves the Roman dignity gravitas of his illustrious interlocutors e. Cato maior, Scipio, Crassus 38 by avoiding, for the sake of urbanitas, even the slightest hint of pedantry. In each case, Cicero adapts his quotations and his manner of quoting to the nature of his audience.
The latter are of course inaccessible to us. For the problem of revision, cf. In the Pro Caelio, there is no trace of carelessness, as far as rhythm is concerned, cf. It is a fascinating task to compare the styles of these two groups of orations. Furthermore, in orations written for publication only, parentheses42 and words of Greek origin are more frequent 43 than in other orations.
The presence of Greek words in Verrines II can be explained by their subject matter Sicily, sculpture. Frequency of parentheseses, however, is not a mechanical consequence of a less familiar subject matter. As a rule, in forensic style, art should be concealed. Consequently, even rhythm is determined by more or less unconscious expectations of the audience Partitiones Oratoriae Pompei has by far the most pleasing rhythm.
Especially important are Primmer and Habinek. In his seventh working period from the Pro Sestio to the Pro Balbothe In Vatinium excels by its elaborate rhythm;55 in this case Cicero developed a cross-examination into a showpiece of oratory. In his ninth working period the time of the Caesarian Orationsthe largely epideictic De Marcello is distinguished by its carefully workedout rhythm and its exquisite vocabulary. Another link between judicial and political orations rests in the fact that both were often directed to the same audiences.
Yet, the very nature of excursuses sets limits to their use: Two of those are judicial orations. For civil cases the plain style is most appropriate. Striking rhythm and elaborate symmetry are avoided; instead, there is some display of a studied and agreeable negligence.
Of course, pure Latin is a requirement, and aphorisms, witticisms, irony, and humour are not forbidden;70 even metaphors may occur, but no neologisms. Consequently, even an element such as the length of sentences cannot be considered a merely stylistic choice; it depends on the inventio of the oration and the aims of the speaker. Characteristic features of this style, in which the subject matter is more important than the words, are insertions, short sentences, normal word order, parataxis, and direct speech; the frequency of antitheses is indicative of rational argument.
Pompei, but not so much inferior as one might have expected. Pompei sets a high value on rhetorical ornatus such as praeteritiones. In the De Imperio Cn. Pompei trivial constructions with facere are less frequent, syntax is more elaborate, and well-rounded periods are found more often. However hard Cicero tried, he could never have become a plain and simple orator;76 what is more: It will be shown in 72 In the Pro Roscio Comoedo, which mimicks the style of comedy, the prose rhythm shows a studied negligence.
Finally, there is a third level of style: His imagery in this oration is slightly more poetic than in others. Given the seriousness of the case, the absence of irony here is no surprise. Roscio Comoedo and Pro Tullio.
Habinek has shown that vocatives are most frequent in the elevated style the Pro Rabirio Perduellionis Reo has 1. This is another proof of the small distance between the two last-mentioned orations. Pompei and the Pro Rabirio Perduellionis Reo to the people. Pompei or raising pity through pathos in the Pro Rabirio. Before the people, Cicero avoids Greek words even more carefully than he does before the Senate.
Werner passim, see above, p. Tellingly, the only vulgar expression found in the 6th Philippic a public oration is an interruption coming from the audience 6.
Generic rules are often derived from experiences which orators had with their audiences. Another factor determining style is the function of the orator in the case in question.
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Does the style of the narratio become more obscure in his later orations? Murray —; Robinson 71—76; cf. De Lege Agraria 2. As for colloquialisms, the contracted form dixti occurs once De Finibus 2. Similarly, in the De Re Publica 2. A greater number of archaisms is found only in the De Legibus where the subject matter fosters an archaizing tone: The spelling -imus came into fashion through Caesar and was supported mainly by Calvus, Messalla, and Brutus.
He wrongly takes for a plural the archaic form appellamino 3. In addition, each group has no more than words of its own. What is more, the words they have in common are at the same time the most frequently occurring ones.
Biondo notes that, according to Cicero, the spectators of the theatre and the audience of the forum and the senate, although ignorant of grammatical rules, metrical laws, and rhetorical precepts, could detect errors in recitation and could distinguish the elegant Latin of the metropolis from the coarse Latin of the countryside.
At this point Biondo becomes aware that his line of reasoning presents somewhat of a dilemma. On the other hand, to assume that the common people of antiquity lacked such an understanding would be to negate that monolingualism Latinitas he had so vigorously defended up to this point.
Indeed, as demonstrated by the numerous vernaculars of contemporary Italy, even the most barbarous of languages is endowed with a certain regularity. To be sure, their speech lacked the syntactical and rhetorical sophistication common to the men of letters; nevertheless, it encompassed much that is fundamental to Latin grammar. The peasants of this region, as any scholar from northern Italy could easily detect, utilized freely and effectively numerous linguistic characteristics of classical Latin, characteristics that the contemporary scholars could master only after much studying.
These women used correctly important features of Latin grammar, though lacking a theoretical understanding of its key elements: Relying again on evidence from Cicero BrutusBiondo notes that some corruption of Latinity was already apparent at the time of Caesar, especially among those residents of Rome who were exposed to a crude domestic environment or had spent their lives outside of Rome. However, full scale deterioration of classical Latin began only after the barbaric invasions.
Whereas prior to the arrival of the barbarians the corruption of Latinity was limited to a few small elements of Roman society and was apparent primarily in enunciation, after the barbaric invasions it became universal and fundamental, encompassing every segment of Roman society and every aspect of Roman speech.
Consequently the vernacular, rather than being a product of antiquity, was a bastard language resulting from the fusion of Latin and Gothic-Vandal usages. Nevertheless, he hopes to have demonstrated what the language of antiquity was or, at least, to have generated enough interest in the subject so that Bruni himself or other scholars might want to pursue the matter further.
Alberti, Guarino, Poggio, and Filelfo. Bruni opens his letter by stating what he believes is at issue "Quaestio nostra in eo consistit" between him and Biondo. You think, Bruni tells his fellow humanist, that the ancient Romans spoke one language and that there was no distinction between the vulgar and the literary language.
I, on the other hand, maintain that as in our own days so in antiquity by antiquity Bruni means ancient Rome at the time of Cicero and Terence the vulgar speech was distinct from the literary. The audience of the senate, Bruni maintains, was literate and therefore capable of understanding literary Latin. The common people, on the other hand, had a limited comprehension of those speeches much like the modern populace's understanding of the Mass.
This is not to say that the orators wrote down something other than what they had expressed in their oral deliveries, but that what they had said orally was rendered in a more elegant and embellished way so that matters, which in the assembly were peihaps forsari expressed in plain words to enhance the understanding of the audience, could afterward be read from a more concise and polished text. This practice was common among the Latins as well as the Greeks. If the master actors did not understand the text of the dramatic woiks they were performing, the masses who came to these performances must have understood even less: Bruni retorts that such an argument is absurd at best.
Do you, Flavio, and your supporters, Bruni asks sarcastically, actually believe that the wetnurses, the lowly women, and similar people of antiquity were so endowed by nature that they could acquire without formal education the linguistic complexities of literary Latin, complexities that the modern scholars can master only through rigorous training and intense application?
According to Cicero OratorDuellius was called Bellius by the common people: Bruni, therefore, concludes that the common people used one type of speech, the literate another: Learned fathers, slaves, even mothers, Bruni argues, if they are well-bred, can aid the eloquence of their children. Indeed, the language of these women, as demonstrated by an aristocratic woman he had himself observed, possesses a certain vernacular charm.
In a similar way, the mothers and nurses of antiquity must have contributed to the linguistic refinement of their children's speech.
This is not to say, however, that they instructed their children in grammatical matters inflexion, variatio, termination in the literary fashionbut that they instilled in them a pure, polished form of speech. Indeed, the vernacular too has the potential of an excellence all its own as demonstrated by Dante and others who use it free of faults.
Laelia and Cornelia, according to Bruni, were literate and even Curio should be considered literate, notwithstanding his lack of literary training.
Curio wrote down his orations and dialogues, and anyone who commits his thoughts to writing is perforce literate, for how can we call illiterate one who expresses himself in a literate form? For example, he misinterprets a reference in Terence's Hecyra as meaning linguistic instruction rather than memorization of lines, as is the intent of Terence.
He thus concludes that the actors lacked understanding of the dramatic works they performed. Much of Brum's argument is intended to discredit Biondo's assertion that the common people of antiquity understood the literary language of the theatrical performances and the Latin of the orations delivered in the senate and the assemblies. He thus glosses over the more important issues raised by Biondo's treatise.
For example, he dismisses with a simple sarcastic remark Biondo's belief in the intrinsic regularity of languages and in the ability of all people, even the most illiterate, to speak grammatically.
Bruni all but overlooks Biondo's fundamental point that the difference between the speech of the masses and that of the learned is one of tone rather than substance.
He insists that knowledge of Latin among the unlearned is totally inadmissible. He thus argues that Curio whom Biondo, following Cicero, recognizes as being knowledgeable of Latin though lacking in literary training was in fact learned, because he committed his thoughts to writing "Qui. He now argues that the speeches delivered to the masses were redone in a refined language, which was nevertheless essentially the language used at the time of their delivery.
A close reading of Brum's letter reveals that his argument is colored by the modern bilingualism of Latin and vernacular, which he sees as a direct result of an analogous linguistic state in antiquity.
In fact, his insistence that the masses of antiquity could not possibly partake of the grammatical complexities of Latin, because Latin and the vernacular are substantially different from one another, betrays an adherence to the linguistic reality of contemporary Italy. Even his assertion in the last part of the letter that as in contemporary Rome so in antiquity upper-class women instructed their children in ihetorical embellishment rather than in 22 CHAPTER ONE linguistic sophistication is influenced by the linguistic state of contemporary Italy.
As we have seen above,37 this assertion is prompted by Biondo's argument that in antiquity a cultivated home environment led to the refinement of one's speech. Brum's interpretation of this factor, however, differs fundamentally from Biondo's.
Whereas Biondo, who argues from the classical perspective of linguistic uniformity, sees the home environment as contributing to a more elegant Latin, Bruni, who argues from the modern perspective of bilingualism, sees it as contributing to a more refined vernacular. The common language of the aristocratic circles of antiquity, therefore, like the pure, charming idiom of the upper-class women of contemporary Rome, though more refined than the language of the masses, was still essentially a vernacular.
Nevertheless, Biondo demonstrates sounder scholarship and better critical judgment than Bruni. As we will see later, the theories Biondo advances in this treatise the vernacular's derivation from Latin, the intrinsic regularity of languages, the usefulness of contemporary vernaculars in the study of ancestral languages, etc.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of late-medieval culture is a belief in ancient bilingualism. Antiquity, according to the scholars of the late Middle Ages, possessed two parallel, independent linguistic entities: Latin and the vernacular. Latin, an artificial, secondary language, was solely the language of the learned, whereas the vernacular, a natural, fluid language, was essentially the language of the masses.
One of the key exponents of ancient bilingualism in the Middle Ages is Dante Alighieri. Indeed, a close reading of Brum's letter reveals a strong adherence to the linguistic notions of Dante. To appreciate fully, therefore, the historical and cultural implications of the Florentine debate, we must consider it in light of Dante's linguistic theories.
However, the Dantean works that have the greatest bearing on the Florentine debate are the first treatise of the Convivio and the first book of the De Vulgari Eloquentia. In the first treatise of the Convivio, which serves as the proem of the work, Dante notes that the Convivio will consist of fourteen treatises with each treatise encompassing a canzone and a commentary.
Dante adds that current scholarly practice would have dictated that the commentaries be written in Latin I, ix, Nevertheless, he has opted for the vernacular for three important reasons: A commentary in Latin, Dante notes, would have been incongruous with the essence of the canzones, for Latin is a language totally different from the vernacular: To be sure, a commentary in Latin would have enjoyed an international readership. However, those readers, such as the Germans and the English, who are not knowledgeable of the Italian vernacular, would have understood the content, but not the artistic beauty of his poems.
As for the literati of Italy, they would have grasped the full value of the canzones, but the Italian literati were too few in number and his objective was to reach the largest readership possible I, vii-viii. This goal could be achieved only by writing the commentaries in the vernacular: By writing the commentaries in the vernacular rather than in Latin, Dante could demonstrate that the Italian vernacular had the ability to express effectively and gracefully lofty and new matters: Dante argues that the potential to express lofty matters in a cogent and elegant fashion had always been implicit in the Italian vernacular ".
His commentary will remedy this deficiency: Indeed, Dante foretells of a day when, on the strength of his commentary, the Italian vernacular would emerge as a respected language, serving as a viable linguistic instrument for the many who have no knowledge of Latin: Indeed, the vernacular contributed to his very being in that it was the linguistic means that brought his parents together "Questo mio volgare fu congiugnitore de li miei generanti, che con esso parlavano" I, xiii, 4.
Moreover, the vernacular made him good, that is to say, made him cultured. In fact, the vernacular launched him on the road to intellectual pursuit and made it possible for him to learn Latin: However, for all its merits, the vernacular was inferior to Latin. At best the vernacular could approximate the linguistic efficiency of Latin ". Dante goes on to note that an examination of the Latin of the dramatic works of antiquity and of the vernacular spoken in the Italian cities would clearly show that Latin has remained remarkably constant whereas the vernacular has changed significantly: Onde vedemo ne le cittadi d'Italia, se bene volemo agguardare, da cinquanta anni in qua molti vocaboli essere spenti e nati e variati" I, v, Indeed, so pervasive is the change of the vernacular that should those inhabitants who died a thousand years ago be resuscitated, they would not recognize their ancient vernacular language as their own: In the De Vulgari Eloquentia Dante does indeed elaborate on the variable nature of the vernacular.
He argues that linguistic mutability is intrinsic in all natural languages. Hence all vulgar tongues are in a constant state of evolution. Languages are mutable, because man's nature, the cause and molder of all linguistic phenomena, is itself very unstable and extremely variable: Languages change in space as well as in time, but the linguistic change caused by time is by far the more significant.
Dante traces the linguistic instability of the vulgar tongues to the building of the Tower of Babel. Prior to this event mankind spoke a universal, stable language totally immune to man's whims a nostro beneplacito.
This language was the language of Adam, which was created concurrently with Adam himself: Man's presumptuousness displayed in the construction of the Tower of Babel caused the disintegration of this primal language, and this disintegration gave origin to a diversity of languages which in Europe manifested itself as a threefold idiom ydioma triphariumencompassing the "Germanic," "Romance," and "Byzantine" languages.
These European languages evolved into further linguistic forms. Hence, the Romance idiom developed into an ydioma tripharium: And the languages of oc, oil, and si themselves ramified into different linguistic entities.
The language of si, for example, evolved into fourteen major vernaculars with each vernacular having numerous linguistic derivatives of its own: Que adhuc omnia vulgaria in sese variantur. This constant and inevitable diversification of the natural tongues led to the creation of a secondary language locutio secundariawhich Dante classifies as gramatica, I, i, As such, the gramatica is stable and, therefore, unchangeable in time and space: Hence, the gramatica remedies the inconveniencies caused by the diversity of the vulgar tongues.
Indeed, the gramatica serves as a viable linguistic instrument for the people of different places and different eras: The gramatica has been confined to the Romans, the Greeks and few other peoples, for the grammatical regularization of this language can be attained only through long and unremitting application I, i, 3.
The gramatica of the Romans was, of course, Latin, that is to say, that same Latin that in the Convivio Dante characterizes as "perpetuo e non corruttibile. When precisely was it formulated? Did Latin consist solely of vernacular usages derived from the Romance idioms, or was it composed also of Germanic elements? Dante never really answers these questions, though he seems to imply that literary Latin has some linguistic affinity with the Romance idioms, especially the language of si by virtue of Latin's use of sic as its affirmative particle: Whatever the origin of Latin, this language, as Dante notes in the Convivio, possesses a great artistic refinement.
Consequently, it ought to serve as a model for the formulation of the illustrious vernacular, the attainment of which is the primary objective of the De Vulgari Eloquentia I, 1. In fact, the Sardinians ape the grammatical elements of Latin: By illustrious vernacular Dante implies the reductio ad unum of the Italian vernaculars. However, this reductio is to be achieved not through a periodical selection of the best linguistic elements of the Italian vernaculars, as was assumed by Giangiorgio Trissino and other scholars of the Cinquecento, but through a purification of these same vernaculars.
The Italian vernaculars must be cleansed of their linguistic improprieties. The illustrious vernacular would possess supreme refinement and expressive power I, xvii ; it thus would serve as a regulating force for all the Italian vernaculars I, xviii, 1.
The conception of the illustrious vernacular as a supreme linguistic instrument defines and reinforces the Convivio's notion of an Italian vernacular capable of expressing complex and varied ideas.
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As we will see in the following chapters, much of Dante's reasoning outlined here is at the basis of the dispute of and the controversy that it spun. Indeed, Dante's linguistic theories constitute the elixir vitae of the Florentine debate. Hence, whereas Dante had spoken of a locutio naturalis vs. As in Dante so in Bruni, these linguistic entities are totally independent of one another.
Indeed, Brum's very assumption that the Roman and Greek intelligentsia spoke a vernacular form of speech with the masses, which they then rendered into a literary language, echoes Dante's notion in the De Vulgari Eloquentia of a stable, universal gramatica, which was limited primarily to the literati of ancient Rome and Greece.
This reliance on Dante's linguistic theories led Bruni to what Remigio Sabbadini has classified as "il suo famoso e frivolo giudizio. Or to put it differently, how could Bruni, at the height of Humanism, still accept Dante's notion of bilingualism?
Due to a misunderstanding of a key passage by the distinguished German linguist Hugo Schuchardt, scholars have attributed Bruni's misconception of the nature of classical Latin to a nominalistic interpretation of linguistic phenomena.
In fact, his letter to Biondo lacks the scholarly rigor one finds in his other works, especially his Historiae Florentini Populi. By vernacular Bruni meant, of course, the Florentine vernacular. In his Laudatio Florentinae Urbis, he had noted that the Florentine vernacular was the purest and the most cultivated in Italy; it thus served as an example for those Italians who wanted to speak well and faultlessly. By subscribing to Dante's notion of classical bilingualism, he was able to contribute much to this prestige.
In fact, as has been observed by Hans Baron, the notion of two parallel independent linguistic entities made it possible for Bruni to trace the vernacular to classical times. This classical origin gave the vernacular greaterrespectability.Sintassi dell'accusativo
In the treatise De Militia, he had tried to prove that knighthood militia was not simply a product of medieval developments, but had its roots in ancient Rome. Here, where we have fuller information on Brum's reasoning, thanks to the treatise De Militia, we see that his tracing of a medieval development to ancient origins was intended to enhance its prestige. Is it not very probable that Brum's intention was the same when in later years he thought he could trace the Volgare to Roman roots?
Prior to the Florentine debate, he had glorified Florence's three crowns: The Vita di Dantecoming only a few months after the letter to Biondo, must have been prompted to a large degree by the Florentine debate. In the Vita di Dante, the disputation over the sermo vulgi vs. Il nome del poeta significa eccellente ed ammirabile stile in versi Ciascuna lingua ha sua perfezione e suo suono e suo parlare limato e scientifico.
In fact, every language has its own perfection, its own euphony, its own refinement and parlare scientifico. Following, it seems, Dante's reasoning, Bruni argues that the choice of writing in Latin or in the vernacular is to be viewed in light of ancient Rome's choice of using Greek or Latin. Just as in antiquity, Greek was not to be regarded as more useful than Latin, so in modern times, Latin is not to be considered more functional than the vernacular.
What determines the excellence of one's woik is not whether it is written in Latin or in the vernacular, but whether it possesses substance and artistic elegance. In Brum's letter to Biondo, then, and in his Vita di Dante, we have a reaffirmation of Dante's belief in the proficiency of the vernacular.
That it is a fait accompli is confirmed as Bruni had noted in the letter to Biondo by the writings of Dante and others apud Dantem et alios who have used the vernacular effectively. Indeed, in the Vita di Dante, Bruni elaborates on the apud Dantem et alios of the letter to Biondo by acknowledging specific writers and by emphasizing the monumental contribution of Dante himself. Dante, according to Bruni, had been preceded by several vernacular writers Guinizzelli, Guittone, Bonagiunta, Guido da Messinabut he had surpassed them all in elegance of expression and in profundity of thought.
Such was Dante's excellence in the area of poetry that no one would ever surpass him. E certo moite cose sono dette da lui leggiadramente in questarimavolgare, che ne arebbe potuto, ne averebbe saputo dire in lingua latina ed in versi eroici.
La prova sono VEgloghe da lui fatte in versi esametri, le quali, posto sieno belle, niente di manco moite ne abbiamo vedute vantaggiatamente scritte.
Cicero's Style: A Synopsis
Writers must be free to express themselves in the language in which they are most competent lest society be deprived of such monumental woiks as Dante's Divine Comedy. Could the vernacular be equally effective in poetry and in prose?
However, in the Vita di Dante Bruni is forced to admit that these matters can be expressed only with difficulty in the vernacular: As has been noted by Paul Oskar Kristeller, early fifteenth-century Italy enjoyed a vernacular poetic language common to the whole peninsula.
Vernacular prose writing, on the other hand, was still limited primarily to Tuscany. A common vernacular prose language developed in Italy only in the second half of the fifteenth century.
This refinement was possible within the realm of vernacular poetry in view of the rhythmic and metric laws peculiar to poetic compositions in general. However, lack of orthographic and grammatical manuals—there was as yet no grammar of the vernacular—rendered vernacular prose writing fluid and irregular.
Thus, Bruni must have concluded that vernacular prose writing was unsuitable for stylistic elegance and therefore ought to be avoided in the composition of scholarly works. His argument certainly lacks the conviction we have noticed in Dante.