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Keeping up Appearances: Shame and Oratory in Cicero's Thought
Unformatted Document Text:  each required task to a kind of style of speaking. 30 Probare corresponds to the plain style; delectare to the middle style; and flectere to the grand style. Each style entailed considerations of word choice, inflection, gesture, and posture, among other factors. Just as the ideal orator is able to achieve all three tasks, the ideal orator is also able to speak in each corresponding style, and thus to utilize the three means of persuasion. Being able to utilize all three styles in speech, let alone understanding when a particular style is (or is not) appropriate, is no easy task; it requires “rare judgment and great endowment.” 31 Linked to this ability is the rhetorical virtue of decorum, encountered already in our discussion of On the Ideal Orator; it enables the orator to determine what style is appropriate to delivery in particular situations. What is appropriate in one situation – say, in speaking before the senate – may not be appropriate in another situation – say, speaking before a contio. For instance, while speeches in the contiones featured much flair, speeches in the Senate were often more subdued, the order of speaking itself subject to hierarchical considerations. 32 Thus, Cicero states that “In an oration, as in life, nothing 30 Emanuele Narducci, "Orator and the Definition of the Ideal Orator," in Brill's Companion to Cicero: Oratory and Rhetoric, ed. James M. May (Leiden: Brill, 2002). 434. 31 Cicero, Orator. 70. Cf. Cicero, On the Ideal Orator. III.212. 32 Elaine Fantham, "The Contexts and Occasions of Roman Public Rhetoric," in Roman Eloquence: Rhetoric in Society and Literature, ed. William J Dominik (London: Routledge, 1997). 114. On the distinction between the oratory appropriate for public meetings as opposed to the Senate, see Gary Remer, "Political Oratory and Conversation: Cicero Versus Deliberative Democracy," Political Theory 27, no. 1 (1999). 11

Authors: Kapust, Daniel.
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each required task to a kind of style of speaking.
Probare corresponds to the plain style;
delectare to the middle style; and flectere to the grand style. Each style entailed
considerations of word choice, inflection, gesture, and posture, among other factors. Just
as the ideal orator is able to achieve all three tasks, the ideal orator is also able to speak in
each corresponding style, and thus to utilize the three means of persuasion. Being able to
utilize all three styles in speech, let alone understanding when a particular style is (or is
not) appropriate, is no easy task; it requires “rare judgment and great endowment.”
Linked to this ability is the rhetorical virtue of decorum, encountered already in
our discussion of On the Ideal Orator; it enables the orator to determine what style is
appropriate to delivery in particular situations. What is appropriate in one situation – say,
in speaking before the senate – may not be appropriate in another situation – say,
speaking before a contio. For instance, while speeches in the contiones featured much
flair, speeches in the Senate were often more subdued, the order of speaking itself subject
to hierarchical considerations.
Thus, Cicero states that “In an oration, as in life, nothing
30
Emanuele Narducci, "Orator and the Definition of the Ideal Orator," in Brill's
Companion to Cicero: Oratory and Rhetoric, ed. James M. May (Leiden: Brill, 2002).
434.
31
Cicero, Orator. 70. Cf. Cicero, On the Ideal Orator. III.212.
32
Elaine Fantham, "The Contexts and Occasions of Roman Public Rhetoric," in Roman
Eloquence: Rhetoric in Society and Literature, ed. William J Dominik (London:
Routledge, 1997). 114. On the distinction between the oratory appropriate for public
meetings as opposed to the Senate, see Gary Remer, "Political Oratory and Conversation:
Cicero Versus Deliberative Democracy," Political Theory 27, no. 1 (1999).
11


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