How Important was the Rhetorical Context of Cicero’s Orations: His Listeners’ Fear of Catiline’s Army and Conspiracy?

Cicero’s Orations Against Catiline is a collection of four orations that was directed towards a man named Catiline who had created a conspiracy against Rome. Both of these men had previously been competing for the position of consul. Catiline had used unethical tactics against Cicero, such as bribing which Cicero caught wind of, and used to his own advantage by creating a law which most likely was very specifically targeted towards Catiline. This continued on, with Catiline creating a murder plot against Cicero, which Cicero used as his window to demand to the Senate to do something about Catiline. This actually succeeded and Catiline actually left the city of Rome without a fight. A good question to ask in the context of the whole situation is: how important was the rhetorical context of Cicero’s orations: his listeners’ fear of Catiline’s army and conspiracy?

The design of Cicero’s orations was to persuade Catiline to leave Rome, which was most likely Cicero’s ultimate goal. For example the first oration, Cicero blackened Catiline’s name, to demean and humiliate him to the point that he would leave Rome. Catiline actually left Rome soon after this oration. The second oration was used to insult Catiline’s followers. Which in turn further blackened Catiline’s name. This whole interesting situation was a success on Cicero’s part because he definitely used the tactic of fear. The listeners to his orations were probably scared of Catiline, his army, and what he would do to Rome, because of this being most likely true Cicero used this as an advantage. Cicero is considered to be one of the greatest masters of rhetoric in history so he most definitely could use his listeners’ emotion to his advantage. For example he didn’t actually need to use any physical force to get Catiline to leave Rome.

With this in mind the rhetorical context of Cicero’s orations: his listeners’ fear of Catiline’s army and conspiracy was very important in influencing the outcome of the situation, which was to persuade Catiline to leave Rome. By the end of Cicero’s orations the other individuals who were involved with Catiline’s army were punished for their crimes, and thus weakened Catiline for good. This was only possible by Cicero’s use of the context of his listeners’ fear of Catiline. But regardless of this being the case both men were in the wrong in different ways, and politics is not a clean or tidy business by any means.

In conclusion, the importance of the rhetorical context of Cicero’s Orations in the terms of his listeners’ fear of Catiline and his army was a great one. This enabled Cicero to be able to influence his listeners, and to gain his ultimate goal which was to weaken and persuade Catiline to leave Rome, without using any or little physical force.

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