Virtue’s embodiment in Cicero’s Partitiones oratoriae

Dialectic and oratory as ministrae comitesque sapientiae: virtue’s embodiment in Cicero’s Partitiones oratoriae (Matilde Oliva, University of Pisa and Florence)

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Thursday 19th November 2020
Type: Webinar / Category: Department
  • Admission: Free. Please email Rachael Cornwell (R.H.Cornwell@liverpool.ac.uk) or Daniel Lowes (D.G.Lowes@liverpool.ac.uk) for the Zoom link.
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The purpose of this paper is to investigate the embodiment of virtue in Cicero’s Partitiones oratoriae. In the middle of the work, while commenting the genus laudativum (part. 70-83), Cicero inserts a long ethical digression in which he outlines a complex and accurate system of virtues, whose philosophical sources (largely Stoic, but also Academic-Peripatetic) still need an exhaustive investigation. Moving from this intriguing ethical digression and its philosophical background, the paper will concentrate on virtue’s embodiment and the personified image of the comitatus virtutum. In part. 78-79, indeed, dialectic and oratory are personified as ministrae and comites of wisdom, while eloquence is portrayed as loquens sapientia and verecundia as custos virtutum omnium. The probable Stoic origin of this kind of personifications (Arius Didymus; Philo of Alexandria) and the Ciceronian authorship of the comitatus virtutum image in Latin literature (e.g. fin. 2.111; tusc. 5.13- 14; parad. 16; off. 3.116) strongly invite a new study of this passage and its sources in order to enlighten Partitiones oratoriae’s philosophical background and to show any possible relationship with the rest of Cicero’s philosophical production.