De Provinciis Consularibus Oratio: Introduction and Commentary by Luca Grillo (American Philological Association: Text and Commentaries Series)
Marcus Tullius Cicero
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Perhaps no other single Roman speech exemplifies the connection between oratory, politics and imperialism better than Cicero's De Provinciis Consularibus, pronounced to the senate in 56 BC. Cicero puts his talents at the service of the powerful "triumviri" (Caesar, Crassus and Pompey), whose aims he advances by appealing to the senators' imperialistic and chauvinistic ideology. This oration, then, yields precious insights into several areas of late republican life: international relations between Rome and the provinces (Gaul, Macedonia and Judaea); the senators' view on governors, publicani (tax-farmers) and foreigners; the dirty mechanics of high politics in the 50s, driven by lust for domination and money; and Cicero's own role in that political choreography. This speech also exemplifies the exceptional range of Cicero's oratory: the invective against Piso and Gabinius calls for biting irony, the praise of Caesar displays high rhetoric, the rejection of other senators' recommendations is a tour de force of logical and sophisticated argument, and Cicero's justification for his own conduct is embedded in the self-fashioning narrative which is typical of his post reditum speeches.
This new commentary includes an updated introduction, which provides the readers with a historical, rhetorical and stylistic background to appreciate the complexities of Cicero's oration, as well as indexes and maps.
speeches, Cicero’s feelings are a mixture of anger toward those responsible for his exile and gratitude toward those who supported his return (e.g. Prov. 1–2; Dom. 68–70; Red. Sen. 1). Cicero’s praise of Caesar, however, is peculiar, to say the least, and can be usefully set against his praise of Pompey’s generalship in Pro Lege Manilia and against other less favorable judgments pronounced in these same months about Caesar (cf. Prov. 41 and Dom. 40; Pis. 81 and Sest. 135). Introduction 35
is the sequence of long and short syllables ending a colon. Romans so appreciated 42 Introduction rhythmic clausulae that people would shout in approval for the pleasure of hearing closures “artistically ordered” (de Or. 1.152). It is therefore advisable to gain some understanding of cola and clausulae. A random passage (Prov. 43) provides an example of how periods can be broken into shorter cola: Ecce illa tempestas, / caligo bonorum et subita atque improvisa formido, / tenebrae rei publicae,
refused a thanksgiving to Gabinius (Prov. 14), and we know from one of his letters that this happened on May 15 (QF 2.7.1, in the same meeting where the distribution of the Campanian land was discussed). May 15 therefore is the terminus post quem, and since the allocation of consular provinces had to take place before the consular elections (cf. below on the assignment of consular provinces), which were normally held toward the middle of July, Prov. was given between May 15 and mid-July. But we
and a half years more: Piso’s and Gabinius’ mandate (probably of five years, cf. Introduction 22–3) would have regularly ended at the end of December 53. Cicero did not consider this the most challenging objection to his plan (cf. Introduction 32–4; Fam. 1.7.10; Balb. 61; Giovannini 1983: 113–14), but he must have expected it, since some adversaries of Caesar did not recognize the validity of the lex Vatinia, which (somewhat irregularly) had assigned Gaul to Caesar (cf. Introduction 20–3), and
between different classes (the concordia ordinum) with his admittedly shocking support of Caesar. Cicero praises the senators as much as he praises Caesar, hoping to give both some education: Caesar should continue to seek the senate’s approval, and in turn the senate should appreciate what Caesar has done for the state and welcome him back into its bosom (38–9). Lastly, Cicero writes to Atticus that he was under pressure (urgebar), implying that he had to turn in his writings quickly. But the