How Important was the rhetorical Context of Cicero’s orations: his listeners’ fear of Catiline’s conspiracy and army?

Rhetoric was a central aspect of Cicero’s orations.  Without the use of rhetoric, he would not have made the same impact during his era, nor would he have impacted the modern world.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), is considered to be one of the most effective users of rhetoric in history.  He was a Roman politician who served as consul in 63 BC.  This man, was regarded even in his own time for his rhetorical abilities.  The thought of being pursued by this in front of the Roman Senate is daunting for the victim. In each of his speeches he delivered, he had a goal, and he was consistent with that goal throughout the speech.  For this reason, the victim knew they would be defeated if they attempted to deny Cicero’s accusations.

Cicero pursued a man, known in English as Catiline (108-62 BC), he was a member of the Roman senate.  Cicero believed, and argued, that Catiline was conspiring an attempt to overthrow the city.  He verbally addressed him in front of the Roman senate.  He accused Catiline of being the source of evil in the city of Rome.  He delivered four different orations, each with different goals, all of which had a focus on removing Catiline’s conspiracy from the city.

Rhetoric was central to Cicero’s series of orations.  The use of rhetoric, was the heart of his speech.  What exactly is rhetoric? From Wikipedia: “Rhetoric is the art of discourse, wherein a writer or speaker strives to inform, persuade or motivate particular audiences in specific situations.”  In order to make his audience fear Catiline’s conspiracies, Cicero had to use rhetoric to effectively motivate his audience.  He had to persuade and motivate his audience to take action against the conspiracy of Catiline.

The orations he delivered were not in the format of a trial.  They were strictly political speeches.  He did not specify his accusations and he offered no proof of his accusations.  He did not order sanctions against Catiline, he just gave him advisory.  The goal of his first oration was to persuade Catiline to leave the senate, and to ultimately leave the city of Rome.  He accomplished this goal through use of rhetoric.  Cicero was successful in this task, and Catiline departed from the city.  This was done, not through lawful force, but rather by means of effective rhetoric.

If Cicero had not accomplished what he did with his rhetorical techniques, Catiline may have been successful in his attempt to overthrow the city.  If not successful in his attempt, there would have been executions of innocent Roman citizens.  It was not over, however.  When Catiline left the city, his allies were still corrupting Rome, Cicero confronted this in the following orations.  Catiline would later attack the city, but he was no longer inside the walls of the city, and he lost power because of this.  Without the rhetorical context of Cicero’s orations, his audience would not have taken action, and the course of history would be vastly different.

If you had been Catiline, what would you have said to undermine Cicero’s case?

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) was a Roman politician who served as consul in the year 63 BC.  He is believed by many to be one of the greatest masters of rhetoric in history.  He was persuasive in his arguments and had significant power because of this.  Cicero was also a lawyer as well as a politician, and in a verbal confrontation, he attacks a figure of that time, Cataline.  Cataline (108-62 BC) was a member of the Roman senate, but he had his own organizations by which there were suspicions that he might attempt to overthrow the city.

Cicero uses his rhetorical tactics to dramatically addresses Cataline in front of the senate.  This was not a trial however, this was a political oration delivered by Cicero.  Cicero, even in his own time, was regarded as a master of rhetoric.  Being verbally pursued by this man raises a level of fear in the victim. Cicero had goals in his speech, but he did not make these obvious.  Among other goals, the main goal of Cicero in his oration was to persuade Cataline to leave the city of Rome.  The entire oration was centered around this goal.  Had I been in the place of Cataline, I would have made an effort to react differently to Cicero’s accusations.

Cicero made several vague accusations towards Cataline, and basically portrayed him as a monstrous threat toward the Roman Republic.  While the accusations may have been true, they were neither specific or direct.  He did not refer to specific events in which Cataline conspired in wrongdoings.

I do not know if, in this confrontation, Cataline had the opportunity to speak, but if I were in his place, I would have made an effort to intervene.  I would have requested Cicero to specify his accusations, and provide relevant proof for them.  And if he was unable to speak during the oration, I would have confronted it when Cicero had finished speaking.

Perhaps Cataline did not make an effort to deny these accusations of being a danger to the Roman Republic, because perhaps they were true.  Perhaps he really was conspiring against the city, and perhaps he knew that it was true that he deserved death.  It is not apparent that he made any effort whatsoever to defend himself.  He could have demanded evidence that what Cicero said was true, but if Cicero was able to provide it, Cataline could face death charges rather than simply charges to leave the city.  It could have been that the reason he didn’t deny it was to avoid the possibility of the Senate uncovering some of his monstrous deeds.  Perhaps he saw it as a safer option to remain silent, and be sentenced to leave the city with his army.  Then he could later attack Rome through warfare (which is what he did).

The reasons for his silence in the process is unknown to the text.  If I were in his place, I would have confronted Cicero in a similar way that he was confronting Cataline, using logic and a means of rhetoric.  I would have asked the senate how they accepted these accusations against him when there was no specified proof that they actually happened.

Comparison of Ethics, Works and Days vs. The Eumenides, part 2

(to see the first part of this assignment click here, this will provide a background for this article)

“How does the view of ethical cause and effect in history in Works and Days compare with the furies’ view in The Eumenides?”

In these two pieces of Greek literature, there are two substantially different views on ethical cause and effect in history.  In Greek civilization, it is noticeable that there was some confusion; there is no ultimate sovereignty.  Zeus is supreme over the other gods, however he does not have ultimate sovereignty.  This raises the issue of which gods’ laws should be followed, because they each had a different system of laws.  This creates confusion in the society, because there is no obvious ultimate good or evil, it is up to the individual to determine which god to obey.  However, we begin to see in these two pieces of literature, foundations of a system of ethical cause and effect.  While these are two separate systems, they share some essential similarities.

In Works and Days, Hesiod lays out to his brother Perses how to live a good life.  He writes about a lifestyle that possesses a system of ethical cause and effect.  He describes what his brother must do to please the gods and tells him how to live his life, he actually goes into impressive detail.  Unlike in The Eumenides, Hesiod explains to his brother that he should not listen to the decisions of the courts, but rather the omens sent directly by the gods.  He attempts to persuade his brother that the decision of the court is not necessarily something he should abide by.  However, in The Eumenides, we see the goddess Athena convince the furies to submit power to the courts of men.  The gods are perceived as above men, but they give men the power of judgment in jury.  This is a contrasting situation.

In The Eumenides, when the furies submit to the court of men by the persuasion of Athena, we see a tremendous transfer of power in history.  The furies had a reputation for being relentless in pursuing their victim.  In the end, the court decision, was against the furies and they were bribed by Athena and for love of fame, accepted her offer to live in Athens.  In lust for fame, the furies submitted their positions as huntresses for violators of the laws against family murder, and changed to a different life, out of the under-ground.

There are two systems here, Hesiod is telling his brother not to trust the decision of the courts, but in The Eumenides, the furies submit to the idea of the courts, and the gods transfer substantial power to men.  Hesiod, in Works and Days is saying to obey to the gods directly (he gives account on which gods to obey and pray to), while Aeschylus, in The Eumenides, is demonstrating that the gods transferred this power to the hands of men.  It is a confusing situation.  If one believes in the Greek religion, how would that individual know which of these accounts is accurate?  It is inconsistent.

Comparison of ethics, Works and Days vs. The Eumenides, part 1.

“How does the view of ethical cause and effect in history in Works and Days compare with the furies’ view in The Eumenides?”

Both pieces of literature, “Works and Days,” and “The Eumenides” state general principles of ethical cause and effect.  However, the ethics are different and produced to the reader in different forms.

Works and Days is a poem written by the ancient Greek poet, Hesiod, who was assumed to have been active from 750-650 B.C..  In this poem, he tries to convince Perses, his brother, to be ethical and to live a good life.  Hesiod provides account to his brother of the sanctions that will occur whether he lives a life of good ethics or whether he lives a life of corrupt ethics.  He gives Perses an example of what the good life is like and what he must do to attain this lifestyle.  Hesiod’s real goal in this poem was to persuade his brother to allow him his fair share of the inheritance, he did this by presenting him with ground laws of ethics.

The Eumenides is the third tragedy of a trilogy, leading up to this third tragedy there were acts of blood revenge in the family.  It started with Agamemnon, the head of the house, sacrificing his daughter Iphagenia to the gods during the Trojan war.  Clytaemnestra, wife of Agamemnon, conspires with Aegisthus, her new lover, to deceive Agamemnon and murder him.  Orestes, son of Agamemnon and Clytaemnestra, vows to the Greek god Apollo to avenge his father and kill the murderer, however to do so he must kill his mother.  With some hesitation, he kills his own mother and for this, the relentless furies pursue him.  This was an act that violated the ethical system of a household, therefore the underground gods had to send the furies to restore justice.

Unlike in Works and Days, the furies only demonstrate that this is the wrong way to live, they do not provide example or instruction for the goo, ethical life.

What would have been Orestes’ proper course of action, had he been living today?

The libation bearers is the second part of a Greek trilogy written by Aeschylus, a Greek tragedian (6th century-5th century B.C.).   In this tragedy, dialogue is continued from the first section of the trilogy; a series of blood guilt justice within the household of Agamemnon.  Like most ancient Greek tragedies of this time, this tragedy was a story of the effects of the Trojan war.  This was a series of events that followed the Trojan war, it did not take place during the Trojan war.

The character Orestes, son of Agamemnon, is faced with a difficult decision.  He makes an oath to the Greek god Apollo to avenge his father’s death.  To do so, he must kill his father’s murderer. In this case, his father’s murder is Orestes’ own mother, Clytaemnestra, and her new found lover, Aegisthus that she conspired with to kill Agamemnon.  Orestes is trapped with a decision, if he does not avenge his father by killing his mother, he will face the consequences of his father’s furies, and the consequences of Apollo.  However, if he does go through with the action of killing his mother, Clytaemnestra, he will face her household furies.  He is facing a decision in which he is potentially doomed either way.  Orestes asks for advice from his associate and ultimately kills his mother, and announces at the end of the tragedy that he must flee to avoid her furies.

It was a complicated system of justice.  One act of blood guilt in the family required another act to attain justice, but the system is endless because every murder will require another murder.  It was an “eye for an eye” system of justice.  This is a system that any given individual in the modern world would perceive as corrupt.

If Orestes had been living today, he would have needed to take a completely different course of action.  The series of slaughtering started with Agamemnon offering his daughter Iphogenia, as a sacrifice during the Trojan war, then Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus conspired the murder of Agamemnon to bring justice on his actions, and Orestes followed by avenging Agamemnon.  In this system, the murders are justified by personal reasons, there is no ultimate sovereignty that lays down laws.  In terms of courts, there were no ultimate laws that prevented this slaughtering of family murders, it was all personal to the family.  In most modern systems of justice, this is an issue that would be taken to the court and settled by the system of justice in that state.  No matter how personal the issue, murder is not permitted.

Orestes, if operating today, would have to take this issue to the courts, or he himself would be liable for his murderous actions.  In most modern systems of justice, decisions like the decision Orestes faced, would be made according to the law of that particular society.  In the time of this event, Greek religion played a big role, however, today, in most societies, it is not acceptable to justify murder based on one’s religion.  Had Orestes been active today, perhaps he could have avoided the situation and the difficult decisions he faced by appealing to the court and attaining justice for his household.

What was Aeschylus’s view of the Trojan war?

In ancient Greek history Aeschylus is often described as “the father of tragedy,” he receives this description because he wrote about great Greek tragedies.  He was said to have written a vast amount of plays, however, unfortunately, only a small number of those survived to this day.  He was born in the late 6th century B.C. and died in the mid 5th century B.C..  In one of his most famous tragedies “Agamemnon” he provides some account on his view of the Trojan war.  This tragedy is dramatic, however, one may not learn about the Trojan war by reading it.  He only provides brief account on his view of the famous and devastating war.

While many people are in doubt about whether the Trojan war actually happened or not, the story of the Trojan war was heavily influential on western society.  The war that lasted 10 years, was believed to have began by an act of adultery, it ended in the destruction of Troy, and many deaths of Greek men.

During the war, the main character of the play, Agamemnon, offered a human sacrifice, his own daughter, Iphigenia.  This act was performed to settle war-related issues.  In the tragedy, this act itself was not perceived as wicked, but the wickedness was directed towards the attitude of Agamemnon.  He showed no mercy towards his daughter and did not struggle to command the wicked act.  Personally, I took from this that Aeschylus was attempting to display the way that this horrendous war effected the minds of men.  Agamemnon slaughtering his daughter was a mere example of the other acts that took place during the span of this war.  It seems as though Aeschylus’ view of the war was that it poisoned the minds of men.

Regarding justice, there was no finality, there was no ultimate judgement of good or bad.  Bloodshed was justified by more bloodshed.  These men had no morals, or at least it was interpreted that way in the plays.  Without a set of morals, humankind becomes no better than a beast.  The thing that sets human beings apart from all other creatures is the ability to apply reason, take away reason and men become brainless creatures unaware of the impact of their acts.  Even without an idea of God, I believe that men can reason and separate the difference between good and evil.  In general, a man would not order to have his daughter killed and be satisfied with the act, the war corrupted man’s reason.

Some of the gods sided with Troy, while some of the gods sided with Greece.  The gods did not impose an ultimate end sanction in the war, however they did intervene with more powerful acts than men, for instance, the gods had the ability to install a curse on man, which in some cases can be worse than murdering a man.

The tragedy was not central to the war itself but rather the affect of the war on the men who fought, the families of the men who fought, and the acts of the minds that were corrupted in the war.

What was Hesiod’s view of the mankind’s past and future?

Hesiod was a Greek poet assumed to have been active in 750-650 B.C..  Among his writings, he wrote a poem called “Works and days” in which he attempts to persuade his brother, Perses, to pay him his rightful share of the inheritance.  The poem is essentially divided into two sections, the first section provides ethical instruction in the way man should live.  The second section provides instruction for how men should live practically.  Hesiod tries to persuade Perses to listen to Zeus (the supreme god) rather than the courts, who may take bribes in making their decisions.  The persuasion of Perses was the purpose of this poem, but in persuading Perses, Hesiod shared his view of mankind’s past and future.

Hesios tells us that there were 5 ages in sequence of mankind.  We are the fifth race.  The first period, was the golden age.  Man lived luxuriously in a god-like lifestyle, men stayed young and healthy and saw no harm or despair.  The second period was the silver age.  These men, unlike the golden age, had to work, however, a child could play for up to 100 years before growing up.  The third period was the bronze age.  The people were made of bronze and lived in a bronze world.  The fourth period of mankind, were the demigods. The demigods were a god-like race of hero men, far more righteous and more noble than man.   Then, finally, there is the fifth period, the iron age.  The iron age is the era we live in now, and we are told by descriptions that this is the lowest of the 5 ages.

In terms of the future, we are told that we (the iron age) are ultimately doomed.  We are told that Zeus will destroy the Iron race, like he did all the others.  It is a pessimistic view, the iron race have nothing to hope for, because ultimately it will be destroyed.

While Hesiod provided this ultimate gloomy fate of men, he also said that men should have good ethic, and that men should pray to and rely on Zeus.  Hesiod gave reasons for short term optimism, but regarding the long term, he had only reasons for pessimism.  In this poem, he is telling mankind to live their lives in justice, and in hard work, but at death, it is over.  The only hope for mankind is death.

To live a prosperous life, according to Hesiod, man must pray to Zeus and live his life according to the will of Zeus.  If a person is unjust, Zeus will inflict sanctions accordingly.  To attain reward, humankind must live justly.  However, Zeus is inconsistent, he is not predictable.  If a supreme figure is not consistent in their laws of ethics, or in the sanctions inflicted based on those laws, then difficulty arises for the person trying to abide by said laws.  Man can attain short term reward, if he is able to please Zeus, but in the long term, there is only darkness and death to look forward to.

The main differences between Theogony and Genesis 1.

Theogony and Genesis chapter 1, have many differences.  In each piece of literature, we see the foundational concepts of two completely different worldviews.  The entire system of ethics, hierarchy, and sanctions is completely different.

Theogony was a poem written by the Greek poet Hesiod (c. 750-650 B.C.).  He began with his account on the Muses, 9 goddess daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne.  These Muses told him to sing of the races of the gods, and that is what Theogony is fundamentally about.

It was believed that chaos came to be, however we are not told how.  From this chaos, came Earth, followed by the gods she bore and their descendants.  The creation came about by means of sexual relation between the gods.

It is evident from this poem that the gods did not have a consistent system of ethics and sanctions.  The curses brought on man were not a result of the sins of man.  Sanctions were also imposed on the gods, however theses were also inconsistent, because there was no real system of ethics.

It is not said in Theogony, where men come from.  They were in a sense, just assumed into the text.  It is also apparent that Zeus, who is said to be the most powerful of the gods was not omnipotent.  He calls on the other gods to assist in the war against the Titans.  He is at the top of the hierarchy, but he is not sovereign over the creation.

In Genesis chapter 1, it is apparent from the first verse, that God is an omnipotent being.  He always was, and always will be.  Christians believe that God created heaven and earth.  He did not make heaven and earth, he created heaven and earth; he started with nothing, and with nothing brought forth the creation.  After each subcreation, God saw that it was good and continued.  God created day and night to separate the light from the darkness.  “God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness He called ‘night.’ thus evening came and morning followed–The first day” (Genesis 1:5)  With each day he brought forth a new creation.  On the sixth day of His creation, He created man in his own image and likeness, he gives man a woman as a companion, and He tells them to go forth and multiply.

We cannot fully understand the concept of creating something out of nothing, it is beyond the human mind.  However, in Theogony, we are not provided with the origin of men.  Were men believed to have been created by the Greek gods?  We are not given an answer in this account.

While it is not included in Genesis 1, we see pretty early in the book of Genesis that God lays down a system of ethics and sanctions.  Sanctions are imposed based on ethics and it is a consistent system.  We do not find that in Theogony, it is evident that sanctions were imposed, but the system of sanctions was not consistent.  It was provided in Theogony that the curses man endure existed before man as a result of the behavior of the gods.

These are two completely different perspectives that disagree with each other on many terms.  They are completely separate worldviews, that are mutual in very few aspects.

The Development of Ethics in History Influenced by Biblical Material.

What is the view of the biblical materials on the role of ethics in the development of history?

There are many views conveyed in biblical material that present the role of ethics in the development of history.  These views were presented in Genesis, the first book of the bible, and they are consistent throughout the rest of the scriptures.  There are basic ideas that have prevailed through history and have been adopted by many societies today.  This system of ethics and sanctions is not exclusive to Christians, the ideas of this system conveyed in the bible, formed many aspects of western civilization.

A significant amount of the biblical passages possess one theme, sanctions will be inflicted according to ethics.  These sanctions are inescapable and it is the responsibility of the individual to follow the law of God and have good ethics, otherwise, he will ultimately receive negative sanctions.  In order to have good ethics and receive positive sanctions, the individual must obey the law of God.  The righteous who seek out wisdom and understanding, and submit themselves to the law of God, will receive eternal reward.  Evil-doers may receive a temporary earthly reward, but ultimately they will receive sanctions according to their ethics.

The system of obedience towards God’s law, and the sanctions afflicted accordingly is similar to the system of most civilizations of their state state laws.  This system of cause and effect in relation to law is basic to human reason.

It is demonstrated in biblical text that man has free will, men are agents of God, but they are not robotic instruments.  Individuals have the ability to think rationally and choose their own ethical path.  They cannot, however, determine the punishment or reward, except through the correspondence of their obedience towards the law of God, and their ethics.  Good ethics will result in positive sanctions, while bad ethics will result in negative sanctions.

Individuals can choose for themselves how they live out their lives, they can choose the sanctions they will receive, by choosing a lifestyle of wisdom and righteousness, or a lifestyle of wickedness.  This has remained consistent through the development of history.

If a life of righteousness leads to ultimate positive sanctions, why do men choose to participate in evil acts?  There are pleasures in evil, this is why man engages in it.  However, those pleasures are temporary, they wear off, this can result in an addiction to evil activity.  These are materialistic pleasures, but men are weak, they fall to the addictions of materialistic pleasures.  They lose mindfulness of the idea of ultimate sanctions, and forget about the debts they will have to pay back for their loans of temporary material pleasures.  Again, this idea has been consistent throughout the development of history.

The views of ethics as expressed in biblical text, have shaped western civilization.

Ethics and Sanctions in Proverbs 1-7.

There is a strong relationship between ethics and sanctions throughout the book of Proverbs.  Chapters 1-7 of the Proverbs present significant representation of this relationship.  The Proverbs are written mainly by Solomon, the son of David.  David wrote a majority of the Psalms; the previous book of the bible.  In the first 9 chapters of the Proverbs, the author provides an introduction.  This is unique, this is not seen in any other book of the bible.

In reading this introduction, it is understood that he is offering guidance to his son.  He provides instruction through imagery.  Wisdom is imaged as the form of a woman, wickedness is also imaged as a woman.  The individual man must not let himself be tempted by the strange woman; the woman of evil.  This is an effective use of rhetoric, the message is conveyed in a way that makes sense.  Women are used as an example of what men desire, and this is represents it in a way that the reader can understand the power of the the decision; good or evil.

If man allows himself to be tempted by the “strange woman,” he will go in the path  of  wickedness.  Bad ethics may give a temporary reward, but that reward will eventually die, and negative sanctions will be inflicted.  However, if a man keeps his heart on the woman of wisdom, and devotes himself to the pure path of righteousness, he will be granted positive sanctions.  Good ethics, may present temporary disposition, but this is only temporary, and in the end, positive sanctions will be given to the righteous man.  While there are several examples, this is the basic theme, and the idea of the feminine forms of wisdom and wickedness effectively conveys this theme.

We see in Proverbs 2:18 “For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.”  This verse is referring to the strange woman, who represents wickedness.  There may be earthly pleasures for a period of time, but these will fade and the man who follows the path of this wickedness will be lead to death; negative sanctions.  In Dr. Gary North’s conclusion of this verse, he says “If you go with the unrighteous individual, you’re headed for destruction.”  This message is based on the relationship between ethics and sanctions.

There is instruction provided for the man who chooses the path of wisdom.  The individual must be close to law of God.  The laws of God are standards to which all individuals must live by in order to attain eternal reward.  If one follows the law of God, they exercise good ethics, and this provides them with deliverance from God.  Wisdom is ethical (wisdom in terms of understanding right from wrong).  The individual who seeks wisdom and understanding, rather than wicked action, will attain everlasting positive sanctions.

The relationship between ethics and sanctions in proverbs 1-7 is of great significance.  Ethics influence the end sanction.  While God is the supreme being, man has the free will to choose for himself what path he wants to take.  If the individual lets himself be deceived from the path of righteousness, that is a moral decision of the individual and sanctions will be inflicted according to that moral decision.