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Title: Ancestry and the challenge of the homo-novus: Cicero's use of personal exempla in late Roman republican politics
Author: Blom, Henriette van der.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3468 0583
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis examines Marcus Tullius Cicero's rhetorical and political strategy in late Roman republican politics with regard to his self-advertisement as follower of chosen models of behaviour from the past - his personal exempla. Cicero was a man with political ambitions. As a homo novus in a political culture which favoured men descended from , , famous consuls and generals, Cicero had to devise alternative strategies to reach political office and influence. This thesis argues that Cicero, through his main means to political power, his oratory, adopted the nobiles' claim to political offices through ancestry and adapted it to his own situation. Instead of references to the virtues and achievements of his own ancestors, Cicero presented himself as emulating specific historical figures with the purpose of building up and strengthening his public persona and thereby supporting his claim to political offices and influence. The thesis starts off with discussions of mos, maiores and historical exempla in Roman culture and society and in Cicero's works which show the central role of the maiores, their customs and traditions and their individual achievements in Roman political culture and in Cicero's perception thereof (Introduction). The following presentation and discussion of Ci~ero's background and educationhighlight the aspects which were crucial for his formation as an orator, author and politician such as his early encounters with exemplary Roman orators and politicians and the political implications of nobilitas and novitas (Chapter 1). The subsequent analysis of Cicero's choice and use of historical exempla in his speeches, letters and theoretical works emphasises the versatility and flexibility of such exempla and the central role of rhetorical strategy in the choice and application of historical exempla (Chapter 2). These insights lay the foundation for the analysis and discussion of Cicero's selection and employment of his personal exempla in all his works, which show the range of Cicero's personal exempla and the manifold ways in which Cicero employed these both to prove an immediate rhetorical and political point and to help him build up a credible and influential public persona (Chapter 3). This analysis again leads on to Cicero's self-projection as an exemplum to be followed by others and the various roles he adopted in this attempt (Chapter 4). The thesis concludes with a discussion of Cicero's choice of personal exempla and the implications for his novitas on his rhetorical and political strategy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Oxford University, 2007 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available