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Chapter Five Place and Commonplace: Country and City
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Chapter Five
Place and Commonplace: Country and City

There is hardly a topic in Latin literature that appears more frequently or in a greater variety of guises than that of the contrast between the mores of the country and those of the city. Roman writers of all periods seemed never to tire of praising the simple, honest existence of the farmer and pastoralist while bewailing the growing corruption of city life.[1] Although this chorus of praise for the country resounds often, it is not without a countertheme; there appears almost as frequently in Latin literature extravagant praise for the city of Rome.[2] In examining the way in which Cicero exploits general representations of place, we might therefore begin by tracing the orator's variations on this familiar topic of country and city. Two orations are of particular interest, as they illustrate the sharp contrasts to be found in the works of an orator trained to argue in utramque partem, that is, on either side of an issue. In one of Cicero's earliest speeches, the Pro Roscio Amerino, the strategy of persuasion depends to a great extent on a positive appraisal of the country and a negative one of the city; while in the Pro Caelio —a witty, sophisticated oration from a later period in the orator's career—the assessments of the two milieux are implicitly reversed.


The Honest Farmer

The Pro Roscio was a crucial oration in the political and rhetorical career of the young Cicero.[3] The defendant in the case was a property owner from the town of Ameria who had been falsely accused of the murder of his father. This sensational charge would in itself have attracted a great deal of public attention to the trial, but vastly increasing its notoriety was the fact that this was the first capital case heard before a jury for some years. Sulla, who had seized power following his victory in the civil wars, was attempting in 80 B.C. to return the state to a constitutional system after several years of government by terror and intimidation. The trial was no doubt intended as a showcase of the new order, in which strict legal procedure resulting in severe punishments would replace the violence and anarchy of the recent past. Sulla had not yet, however, allowed the reins of power to slip from his hands; at the time of the trial he held the offices of both dictator and consul. How he intended to use the power of these offices remained to be tested. Cicero's difficulties in planning a defense for Roscius were heightened by the fact that behind the charge, nominally lodged by the professional prosecutor Erucius, stood two of Roscius's fellow townsmen and a freedman of Sulla himself, Lucius Cornelius Chrysogonus.

After an introduction establishing the great difficulties against which he contended (1–14) and a narration revealing the plot against his client that had been set in motion by the latter's enemies (15–29), Cicero begins the argument of the speech (35–142) by dividing his case into three parts: first, the charge brought by Erucius; second, the "boldness" of the attack on Sextus Roscius mounted by T. Roscius Magnus and T. Roscius Capito (henceforth, Magnus and Capito); and, third, the political power of Chrysogonus, on which the success of the plot depended. Cicero then proceeds to take up each of these topics, beginning with a defense of his client on the charge itself. At the outset of this defense he declares that it is incumbent upon a prosecutor who would prove a man guilty of parricide to show that the accused possessed the abandoned habits and depraved character that alone could make so heinous and astounding a crime credible. Cicero calls the potential parricide a man of "unparalleled boldness, . . . savage character, a fierce disposition, and


a life completely given over to vice and crime" (38). Was his client a bold cutthroat, accustomed to committing murder? he asks. Was he a debauched pleasure seeker, overwhelmed by debt? Hardly. In fact, says Cicero, his client owed no one money, and, so far from being a pleasure seeker, he scarcely ever went out to dinner parties, as the prosecutor himself had admitted. At this point Cicero sounds the theme that will dominate the following sections of the argument: "How could unbridled desires (cupiditates ) exist in someone who was always in the country, occupied with the cultivation of his land?" (39). They could not, he declares, since rustic life "is especially separated from desires and joined to dutifulness" (39: quae vita maxime disiuncta a cupiditate et cum officio coniuncta est ).

Here, in both his rebuttal to Erucius's attack and his arguments for Roscius's innocence, Cicero makes use of the probabile ex vita argument.[4] On the one hand, he calls on Erucius to demonstrate that Roscius was the kind of person capable of parricide, while, on the other, he proclaims that he will show that Roscius's background, moral character, and habits of life made his guilt impossible. Ironically, it appears that the specific tack Cicero pursued here had been furnished in part by the prosecutor himself. The latter had claimed that Roscius had murdered his father because the older man had intended to disinherit his son; and, in attempting to fabricate both a motive for this intended change in the elder Roscius's will and proof of the father's dislike for the son, Erucius had apparently spoken several times of the accused as "savage and boorish" (cf. 39, 42, 74: ferum atque agrestem ) and had pointed out to the audience that the father had "relegated" (44: relegatio atque amandatio ) his son to the family estates in Ameria rather than allowing the son to live with him at Rome. As will be seen, these ill-conceived remarks by the prosecutor provided Cicero with a golden opportunity. By agreeing to the prosecutor's characterization of Roscius as a rustic he could convince his audience that his client was incapable of committing the crime with which he was charged.

As if Roman farmers as a class had been attacked by Erucius, Cicero turns his defense of Roscius into an extended and spirited defense of the value of rural life itself. He begins by reminding his listeners of the sentiments of patres familias, especially men "of [Roscius's] class from the


country towns" (43: illius ordinis ex municipiis rusticanis ). These men, according to the orator, were eager for their sons to supervise their estates, just as Roscius had done for his father. Far from being a punishment, says Cicero, such an action demonstrated a father's respect and affection for his son (44). There is, no doubt, a thinly veiled note of condescension in Cicero's description of these old-fashioned farmers, whose lives would have had little connection with the urban preoccupations of most of the audience. It should be remembered, however, that the senators on the jury were tied to such men as friends and clients; they stayed in their houses when traveling through the countryside and expected their votes when important issues were being decided at Rome. Indeed, the jury Cicero addressed was composed of a landed elite who in many cases could trace their roots to this same municipal nobility. That they were enrolled in rural rather than urban tribes was not simply an example of ancient gerrymandering; it expressed the fact that the roots of the Roman senatorial class were planted in the country, not the city. Although such men surely disdained the actual work of the farm and had their estates managed by slave overseers, they nevertheless clung tenaciously to the image of themselves as country gentlemen. They would therefore have been reluctant to appear to condemn the supposed sentiments of these municipal landowners.[5] The section ends with Cicero's assertion that by showing disdain for rural life Erucius had spoken against "the natural order of things, the normal habits of individuals, and the commonly held beliefs of men" (45).

The following section of the speech develops this contention, for Cicero states that because it had been Erucius's lot to be of uncertain parentage, he could hardly know how fathers felt and behaved towards their children (46). The orator suggests that a man like the prosecutor had to learn such facts from literature rather than from experience. He then refers to a play of Caecilius in which, like the elder Roscius, a father kept one son, Eutychus, in the country and one, Chaerestratus, in the city. The orator asks his audience if they believed that this fictional father valued his country son any less than he did his city son. Although the particular play Cicero cites is no longer extant, his reference to it leads to the surmise that in the play (in contrast to the reversal of expectations of behavior that characterizes a play like Terence's Adelphi ) the


stereotypically virtuous actions of a country son were played out against the mischievous conduct of a city son.[6]

By alluding to this play, ostensibly in order to support his defense of rural life, Cicero hoped to encourage his audience to see Roscius as possessing the traits of a "typical rustic" like Eutychus.[7] It should be remembered, however, that the "typical rustic" of drama does not appear in only one guise. Rather, two contrasting types appear. The old rustic is a distinctly disagreeable character, a descendant of such figures in Greek Old Comedy as Strepsiades, the crude and irritable countryman of Aristophanes' Clouds .[8] The type is also illustrated by Menander's Knemon, the antisocial farmer of the Dyskolos . Perhaps most familiar is the hard-bitten Demea of Terence's Adelphi . Here, this cynical old farmer describes himself to his urbane brother as "rustic, harsh, gloomy, stern and tenacious" (Ad. 866: agresti', saevo', tristi', parcu', truculentus, tenax ), and he specifically attributes these traits to the hard life he has endured on the farm. No doubt this was the sort of persona Erucius wished the jury to ascribe to the defendant. He would have encouraged them to think of Roscius as a man like the gloomy and unsympathetic old boors of drama whose downfall at the end of a play excited laughter rather than pity.

The young rustic of ancient comedy shared a number of traits with his older counterpart, for they both were depicted as unsophisticated, conspicuously out of place and ill at ease in the city, and completely


unequipped to deal with the complexities of the urban milieu.[9] In other ways, however, the young rustic (no doubt distinguished from the old rustic by hair color and mask) is quite a different creature.[10] Gorgias, the young farmer in Menander's Dyskolos, may be taken as the typical young rustic. He is straightforward, hardworking, slow to anger, and displays intelligence in country matters. By comparing Roscius to Eutychus, the young rustic in Caecilius's play, Cicero encouraged his audience to identify him with such attractive and sympathetic characters. The orator is much aided in this attempt by the fact that the case revolved around Roscius's relationship with his father. The audience was therefore inclined to picture Roscius, like Eutychus, in the role of the country son.

Cicero does not restrict the development of this image of his client to this part of the speech alone. Throughout the oration the audience is frequently encouraged to see the defendant as a typical rusticus bonus . For instance, the orator states that Roscius was completely devoted to agricultural pursuits and that he was, in fact, quite clever within his own metier (49). This preoccupation with the affairs of the farm was, of course, an important part of the character of the rusticus, as was the intelligence he demonstrated in rural matters. Cicero not only refers to Roscius's wit within his own milieu; he vividly describes his client's utter helplessness when he is driven from the farm to the city (cf. 27, 88). This kind of incompetence in urban affairs is yet another feature of the typical rustic. Perhaps most important in establishing Roscius's rustic character—and in distinguishing it from the unattractive traits associated with the old rustic—is the manner in which Cicero describes his client's reaction to the wrongs done him by his enemies. According to Cicero,


the ignorant and innocent Roscius harbored no ill will or anger at the shocking treatment he had received, and he accepted the loss of his property and the destruction of his father's good name without protest. He asked only to be acquitted of parricide so that he might leave the court alive (128, 143–44). This extreme humility forms part of the positive stereotype of the young rustic, illustrated by such common phrases as pudor subrusticus and modestia rustica .[11] It is distinctly uncharacteristic, however, of the old rustic, whose chief trait is his fierce temper, instantly roused by an injury, whether imagined or real.

In the final section devoted to this probabile ex vita argument Cicero turns from drama to the Roman past. He summons up the image of the heroes of Roman history who had worked their own land, recalling the example of men such as Atilius, who had left the plow to lead the legions to victory. It was such individuals, he states, who had transformed the small and struggling Roman state into a great power (50). The orator then declares that since the greatest men in Rome had once dedicated themselves to cultivating their fields, surely Roscius might be forgiven for admitting that he too was a rusticus (51). Although Cicero here claims that the facts of Roscius's life were not to be compared with the deeds of such men, this is exactly what he has done. The early Roman state was a small agricultural community, and few cultures have guarded the memory of their simple beginnings as fiercely as did Rome. The man of Cicero's day who lived in the country and devoted himself to farming could therefore be depicted in the most positive terms. Cicero could claim that Roscius the farmer was a man of old-fashioned probity, formed—as Cato the Elder had said he was formed—by the thrift, hardship, and hard work of rural life.[12]

Following this part of the speech, Cicero reveals the paucity of argument and the absolute lack of evidence supporting the accusation


against his client. But before turning to the second of the three topics into which he had divided his case—that is, the plot against his client hatched by Magnus and Capito—Cicero makes a general statement concerning the arguments he has marshaled to support the defense of Roscius on the basis of probabile ex vita . According to the orator the strongest proof of Roscius's innocence was that "in rustic manners, in a frugal environment, in this rough and uncultivated way of life (75: in rusticis moribus, in victu arido, in hac horrida incultaque vita ), crimes of this sort do not usually occur. Just as one cannot find every kind of plant or tree in every soil, so every kind of crime is not produced in every way of life." It is the city, he asserts, that creates excess (luxuries ); and excess, in turn, produces greed (avaritia ). From greed springs "boldness" (audacia ) and, finally, all crimes and wrongdoings (75). The rustic life, which the prosecutor had termed "boorish" (74: agrestem ), is in Cicero's view the teacher of "thrift, diligence, and justice" (75: parsimoniae diligentiae iustitiae ).

Here we find an explicit connection of ethos and locus, expressed through the assertion of the kind of geographical and social determinism familiar from the ethnographical treatises of the day. According to Cicero, the nature of a place determined the daily occupations of its inhabitants, and this variety of daily occupations, in turn, determined the virtues and vices to be found there. The range of vices of those who lived in the country is claimed to be more limited than that of city dwellers, and the reason for this, according to Cicero, lies in the availability in the city of nonessential goods and services (luxuries ). The existence of such things leads to material desires (avaritia ) that can grow so unbridled as to yield to none of the traditional constraints on behavior (audacia ).

This attack on contemporary urban luxury and materialism as the source of vice was, of course, a commonplace, as was the assumption that the simple life of the small farmer represented an ideal. These ideas were prevalent in Cicero's day and appeared in works of various genres. For instance, both Stoic and Epicurean philosophers of the late Republic wrote that unrestrained desires led to the corruption of the individual and the destruction of the possibility of personal happiness, and they looked back to an earlier era as a model for a better life.[13] Roman his-


torians of the period pointed to the flow of luxury goods into Rome following its foreign conquests as the reason for the destruction of the morally upright city of the maiores and for its subsequent corruption.[14] And Augustan poets would, in the coming years, rework the old Hesiodic theme of a simple agricultural Golden Age destroyed by greed and materialism.[15]

This section of the Pro Roscio serves as a bridge to the attack on the two Roscii, for Cicero will claim that the sordid manner in which Capito, Magnus, and Chrysogonus live makes their participation in the crime not only believable but inevitable, and he goes on to prove his accusations by attributing to the three the urban vices of which he has just absolved Roscius. The picture of Chrysogonus, for instance, focuses primarily on his luxuries . In the orator's first mention of him he says that Chrysogonus hoped to squander per luxuriam what he had obtained through crime (6). According to the scholiast, in the lacuna in the speech Cicero also made much of Chrysogonus's extravagance, describing his many amusements and possessions. This section is followed by an extended account of the excess that marks every aspect of Chrysogonus's life (133–35): his houses are numerous and opulently furnished; in addition to Delian and Corinthian vases he has quantities of silver, tapestries, paintings, and statues (133); he is accustomed to holding lavish banquets served by troops of effete slaves (134); and he is often seen "flitting about" (volitet ) the Forum with a crowd of retainers (135).

The persona assigned to Chrysogonus thus forms an antithesis to that of Roscius, for the freedman's vices are the mirror image of Roscius's virtues: Roscius never goes to dinner parties (39, 52), while Chrysogonus is known for his lavish feasts; Roscius has not even one servant left to him (77, 145), while Chrysogonus has slaves to satisfy his every conceivable desire (134). Because of his lack of experience with the Forum and the courts, Roscius shrinks from the benches of the tribunal and from the city itself (88). The Greek freedman, on the other hand, is


completely at home in Rome: he descends from his fine house on the Palatine into the Forum, where, surrounded by an entourage of Roman citizens, he flaunts his contempt for all (133–35). Roscius is a man devoted to the thrift and hard work of the country; Chrysogonus, to the luxury and excess of the city.

Capito and Magnus are depicted as villains of a similar sort. Having branded Chrysogonus with the vice of luxuries, Cicero constantly applies to these two the other vices to which the city gives rise, avaritia and audacia .[16] While the terms recur often in Cicero's attacks on his opponents in other speeches, the frequency of their use here is striking. As we have noted, after the partitio (29–34) he had spoken of the obstacles he had to overcome, dividing them into three. Capito and Magnus, he declares, have claimed for themselves the part of "boldness" (audacia ). In the course of the argument (35–142), Cicero calls both men audacious and greedy several times. He asks the jury to consider who would be a more likely perpetrator of murder than Magnus, a man both "greedy" and "bold" (86: avarus, audax ). He had proved his greed (87: avaritiam ) by making a plot with a stranger against a fellow townsman and kinsman; his boldness (87: audax ) was shown by the fact that he alone of the conspirators was unashamed to appear in court to support the false charge against Roscius. Cicero goes on to call Magnus a man "burning with greed" and "the boldest of brokers" (88). Capito shares these traits. According to Cicero, the reason that the crimes of the two have so easily been discovered is that they have been rendered blind to the transparency of their misdeeds by "desire, greed, and boldness" (101: cupiditas et avaritia et audacia ). A little later Cicero tells the jury that in order to find the murderer of the elder Roscius they must simply look for examples of greed, boldness, depravity, and treachery (118). This will inevitably lead them to Magnus and Capito, who "are equal in greed, similar in their dishonesty, with the same shamelessness and boldness" (118: par est avaritia, similis improbitas, eadem impudentia, gemina audacia ).

As was the case with Chrysogonus, the traits of Capito and Magnus are directly contrasted with Roscius's virtues. For instance, in section 88, each of the characteristics of Magnus is set against one of those attributed to Roscius in order to show which of the two would be a


more likely suspect in the murder. Magnus's present wealth is contrasted with Roscius's poverty; his greed, which had led him to attack a kinsman, is set against the description of Roscius as a man who knows only that profit that is the result of hard work (88: semper ita vixerit ut quaestum nosset nullum, fructum autem eum solum quem labore peperisset ). The rural industriousness earlier ascribed to Roscius is here presented, therefore, as an antithesis to the avaritia of his enemy. Similarly, the audacia of the two is set against the humility of Sextus Roscius. As has been pointed out, Cicero claims that Roscius desires neither revenge nor the return of his property but only wishes to be acquitted of the charge against him. He thinks nothing that has happened to him is cause for indignation (143: nihil indignum ); he accuses no one and does not seek his patrimony (128, 144); as a man of little experience, "a farmer and a rustic" (143: agricola et rusticus ), he accepts without question all that has occurred under the laws and edicts of Sulla. Roscius's humility, then, appears to be a specifically rural trait, a natural concomitant of his identity as agricola et rusticus, just as the audacia of Magnus and Capito has been defined as an urban vice.

Cicero characterizes Magnus and Capito in yet another way as urban scoundrels whose traits are the opposite of those of his client. Both are called "brokers" (sectores ). Magnus is sectorum audacissimus (88); Capito is et sector . . . et sicarius (103). Whether the term is taken in its technical sense to signify a broker of publicly seized property or, in a more general and metaphorical sense, to mean a cutthroat, it is an occupation specifically contrasted with Roscius's lack of urban experience. Cicero asks the jury to consider who would be a more likely murderer, "a man who is the boldest of brokers or one who, because of his lack of acquaintance with the Forum and the law courts, shrinks not only from these benches but from the city itself" (88). By implication, then, a sector is a man of experience in the city, a frequenter of the Forum, and a man who could easily take advantage of the rural naiveté of one such as Roscius.[17]


Image and Reality

In the Pro Roscio Cicero has presented his audience with a series of stark contrasts between the moral characters of those involved in the trial and has connected these mores with either the country or the city. It is natural to ask what relationship this picture bore to reality. The degree of idealization of country life in general can be gathered by comparing the Pro Roscio with the Pro Cluentio, a speech in which the country serves as a realistic setting rather than as a generic ideal. We have seen that in the earlier oration Cicero had pictured rural life as the teacher of simple virtue (75). Both Roscius and the local officials of Ameria were depicted as admirable men of the old school, and Cicero's recital of the attempts of the latter to right the wrongs done Roscius showed them to be, like the accused himself, virtuous men, albeit somewhat ineffectual and naive. Lumped together with these small townsmen as models of old-fashioned probity were the landholders of Umbria and the farmers from the old municipal towns. In the Pro Cluentio, however, we discover that the locals of a similar municipality, Larinum, are adept in practicing the entire range of human vices. Cicero speaks of multiple marriages motivated by hopes of large inheritances, of widespread use of poison, of attempted and actual murders undertaken out of greed or lust, and of rampant adultery, theft, fraud, and cruelty. In this speech the audience hears nothing of the nature of "the country" as a habitation, and nowhere is mention made of the common virtues of farmers or the shared excellences of the nobles of the "old municipal towns." It appears that in this speech we are closer to the pastoral environment portrayed by a Henry Fielding than the idyllic retreat painted in the Pro Roscio . Here, the country is a place where shepherds commit assault and battery (161), travelers are accused of beating up innkeepers (163), and the local estate holders are busy dispatching one another as


well as members of their own families. Although fourteen years separate the two speeches, the radical disparity between the two pictures of the Italian countryside owes more to the speeches' differing rhetorical strategies than to the moral degeneration that occurred during the intervening decade and a half.

What, then, might have been the actual characters of the individuals pictured in the Pro Roscio? While the answer to this question must remain speculative, a number of facts point to a difference between the personae drawn by Cicero and the real situation. For instance, it seems improbable that Roscius was actually the simple farmer Cicero makes of him. In the first place, he and his father enjoyed close connections with members of the Roman nobility.[18] At the beginning of the speech, Cicero explains why he is speaking for the accused in spite of the fact that his client is supported by "so many illustrious orators and aristocratic individuals" (1). The elder Roscius enjoyed not just hospitium but even domesticus usus et consuetudo with the Metelli, the Servilii, and the Scipiones (15). This is hardly surprising, since he was extremely rich (6), an enthusiastic supporter of the cause of the optimates (16), and an active participant in urban social life (52). One scholar has, in fact, called the men who supported Roscius at his trial "die Regierung Sullas selbst," the inner circle of the optimates' power.[19] Such connections call into question the picture of the younger Roscius as a simple rustic.

The defendant was a landholder of Ameria, but this hardly proves his lack of sophistication. Cicero states that Mallius Glaucia had, on the night of the murder, been able to traverse the fifty-six Roman miles from Rome to Ameria in ten hours (19), a feat made possible by the strategic position of the town on the Via Amerina, an offshoot from the Via Cassia.[20] Although his principal holdings were at Ameria, the elder Roscius was constantly at Rome with his second son, and he probably made the short trip between the two places often. Ameria itself was an extremely old foundation. Pliny states that Cato had dated its founding 963 years


before the war with Perseus (that is, approximately 1134 B.C. ).[21] At the time of the speech Ameria was a municipium enrolled in the aristocratic Clustumina tribe, which was also the tribe of Pompey.[22] Near a town itself strategically located on a high plain overlooking the Tiber, the estates of Roscius constituted the most important holdings in the district. The elder Roscius, according to Cicero, owned "thirteen estates, almost all of which touched the Tibet" (20). The orator also states that the younger Roscius did not simply live on the property but was the manager of this large group of holdings (44). It is hardly credible that the man who controlled the most important property in a strategic Roman municipium only one day's journey from the city and who enjoyed close ties to the most powerful families in Rome could be the simple rustic Cicero describes. We might note as well that the speech fosters the impression that Roscius, like Caecilius's Eutychus, was but a youth. It is with a start that we remember that Roscius was, in fact, a middle-aged man of more than forty (39).

There are also indications of a gap between the impression Cicero gives and reality in the case of Roscius's enemies. Chrysogonus may have been the depraved voluptuary Cicero describes, but at least the extent of his power can be called into question. Cicero calls him "perhaps the most powerful young man in the state at this time" (6). Yet only Cicero mentions him as such. No ancient historian attributes any significant undertaking to him. His potentia has probably been as much exaggerated as Roscius's has been underplayed. As for Magnus and Capito, one fact alone stands out: they, like Sextus Roscius, are Amerians. It is difficult to believe in both the rustic virtue of the defendant on the basis of his position as municipal landholder and the urban depravity of his opponents, who seem likewise to have been small-town landholders.

Cicero wrote many years later that this, his first oration delivered in a criminal case, had been a resounding success. Roscius was acquitted, and the young orator was the recipient of much favorable comment and many requests for his services (Brut. 312). That the personae created by Cicero seem to us fairly transparent after a careful reading of the speech should not cause us to be surprised at its success. Reading a speech is an experience quite different from attending the performance of an orator, and techniques that would fail to convince a thoughtful reader become


persuasive at the dramatic moment of delivery. The emotional impact of the Pro Roscio must have owed much to the voice and gestures of the orator and to the sight during the trial of the defendant, dressed in mourning and accompanied by his weeping wife and children.

The persuasive power of the speech, however, rested chiefly on Cicero's success in leading his audience to see the participants in the trial both as believable individuals and as stock types. The picture of Roscius is a subtle combination of the real and the fictional: vivid descriptions of events in Roscius's recent life, such as his flight to Rome and appeal to the noble Caecilia, are colored in the listeners' imaginations by similar scenes they have witnessed on the stage and of which they have been reminded by Cicero's allusions to Caecilius; appeals to the audience to consider the sentiments of "fathers of families . . . from the rustic townships" (43), men "from Umbria and from the old municipalities" (48), or the orator's own "fellow tribesmen and neighbors" (47) are interwoven with romantic images from Rome's past, called up by the mention of the maiores and the heroic Atilius. Cicero thus leads his audience to respond to Roscius both as an individual victim of particular circumstances of contemporary life and the pitiable rusticus subjected to the worst of fates: now destitute, he is attacked by men of wealth; innocent of the city, he must face the complexities of the Forum; schooled in rustic virtue, he is now victim of an urban villainy against which he has no defense.

In like manner, Cicero draws the negative traits of the "urban scoundrels" Chrysogonus, Capito, and Magnus in stereotypical terms but is careful to include references to contemporary reality. As a class these city types are all as clever and glib as their country cousins are naive and inarticulate, and they are as dedicated to luxury as simple farmers are to thrift. But in addition to creating this sort of general portrait Cicero adds the distinctive coloring that would allow his audience to summon to mind images from their own recent experience. Whatever Chrysogonus may have been in reality, in the trial Cicero successfully cast him as one of the foreign freedmen whose cleverness and unscrupulousness had allowed them to prosper during the aftermath of the civil war while freeborn Roman landowners lost home and property. Capito and Magnus likewise are identified as part of the army of cutthroats, war profiteers, and real estate brokers who had by this time become familiar and despised characters within the city.

A brief look at the employment of this same stereotype in another of Cicero's speeches points up the effectiveness of this technique. From var-


ious sources—including the remarks in Greek and Roman rhetorical treatises on ethos, and the surviving training exercises of rhetoric (called progymnastica )—we can be sure that commonplaces concerning the character of the rural environment and regarding the traits of the inhabitants of that environment had long been part of the education of the orator.[23] While the Pro Roscio represents the most extensive use of the positive side of the topos, its outlines may be detected in a number of other orations, including the Pro Quinctio, Cicero's first extant speech.[24] Here he clearly wished his audience to see his client as a blameless man from the country and had assigned to Quinctius various stereotypically rustic characteristics, employing the familiar diction of the topos in doing so. For instance, Quinctius is said to live inculte and horride; his nature is called tristis and recondita; he is unacquainted with urban mores; and he is devoted to parsimonia and officium (59). At the end of the speech Cicero emphasizes Quinctius's rusticana . . . atque inculta parsimonia (92) and his devotion to duty, loyalty, and hard work (92–94). Further, there is again a suggestion that here, as in the Pro Roscio, the traits of the defendant are set in opposition to those of his urban enemy, Naevius, for Naevius is characterized as a wastrel and sharpster (11: scurra ) who hangs around the public auction halls


(12; 25: atria Licinia ).[25] It is noteworthy that in the earlier speech there is nothing to suggest that the characterization of Quinctius is anything more than the application of a Greek rhetorical topos to a client who happens to be involved with rural pursuits; in the later speech, however, Cicero has made considerable efforts to Romanize the topos. His appeals to the audience to consider aspects of their own experience in judging the rural environment—the sentiments of landowners in Italian towns, the characters seen on Roman stages, and, most important, the heroes of Roman history and legend—constitute a much more sophisticated handling of the material.[26]

Cicero's success in the Pro Roscio was perhaps connected as well with the fact that the rural world depicted in the speech was, in large part, disappearing. The events that had taken place in Italy during the preceding two generations—including the decline in the number of free peasants, the conversion of large areas of productive land from small farms to grazing tracts, the constant increase in the use of slave labor, and the stunning growth of emigration to Rome—had worked revolutionary changes in the Italian countryside. By Cicero's day Romanitas was no longer implicitly connected with rusticitas . But this very fact contributed in no small measure to the attractiveness of the topos: its appeal was tied to the nostalgia felt by the Romans for a way of life commonly believed to have been the source of their military and moral superiority, a way of life that was now irretrievably lost.[27]

In Praise of the City

The Strategy of the Pro Caelio

A close reading of the Pro Caelio makes plain that the prosecution in this case made use of much the same kind of topical material about old-


fashioned virtue and contemporary urban vice that had served Cicero well in the Pro Roscio Amerino .[28] At the time of the trial M. Caelius Rufus was twenty-five years old, a sophisticated young man about town, familiar both with the legal skirmishes of the Forum and with the social moves of the smart set residing in the fashionable neighborhoods of the Palatine.[29] Just as Cicero had done in the Pro Roscio, Caelius's opponents had depended heavily on a probabile ex vita argument, supporting charges of sedition, assault, attempted murder, and murder by a demonstration of the immorality of Caelius's disreputable life in the city.[30] The seventeen-year-old prosecutor Atratinus, apparently with some embarrassment, accused the defendant of lewd behavior and used Caelius's support for Catiline in the consular elections for 62 B.C. to strengthen the charge. If such a strategy by the prosecution was successful, part of this success was owed to Cicero himself, who in the Catilinarian orations had created a vivid picture of the upper-class supporters of the conspiracy, in whom disloyalty to the Republic was wedded to moral corruption.

Atratinus's fellow prosecutors had evidently gone even farther in their attack on Caelius's morals. Cicero complains that the prosecution had droned on endlessly about "love affairs, adultery, . . . dinner parties, revelries, concerts," and the like (35). Herennius Balbus had used the supposedly decadent life of the defendant as a springboard from which to launch a passionate disquisition on the general corruption of


the age and the immorality of contemporary youth.[31] This technique of "generalizing the case" was one of Cicero's own greatest strengths, and he remarks with tacit humor that if he too had only to inveigh against the wickedness of seduction, adultery, wantonness, and extravagance, daylight would surely fail him before he had finished (29). Although the topic of Balbus's diatribe was not specifically a comparison of the corruption of the city with the innocence of the country, this comparison is nevertheless implied by his subject matter. As noted above, since the Roman past was stereotypically viewed as a simple, rustic age, untainted by materialism or urban sophistication, any attack on the immorality of the present (30: temporum vitia ) and praise for the virtue of the past carried with it implicit approval of the mores of the country and indictment of those of the city.

This leads us to consider what strategies were open to Cicero in responding to this aspect of the prosecution's attack. In the Pro Roscio he had defended a man who was "accused" of never going to dinner parties; now he was to speak on behalf of one who was guilty of "never refusing a dinner invitation" (27). Since his opponents had apparently praised the old-fashioned morality of bygone days and attacked the corruption of contemporary urban life, we might well expect Cicero to respond by exploiting the opposite side of the topos: that is, by ridiculing the outmoded standards of the rustic past and praising the more relaxed and sophisticated mores of contemporary Rome. As will be seen, this is a strategy that indeed appears at certain points in the Pro Caelio .

In the famous character impersonations (prosopopoeiae ) of the central section of the work Cicero speaks in the voice of several personae who represent the strict morality of the past, and he carries off these impersonations in such a way as to lead his audience ultimately to reject the moral viewpoint represented by each as inappropriate to the present age. He first asks Clodia, on whose desire for revenge against her former lover he has claimed the prosecution depends, whether he should deal with her "gravely, harshly, and in the old-fashioned way" or "gently, mildly, and urbanely" (33: severe et graviter et prisce . . . an remisse et leniter et urbane ). Choosing the former, he summons from the grave the


austere persona of Appius Claudius Caecus, censor of 312 B.C. , in order to rebuke Clodia. We learn from Quintilian that Cicero mimicked the sound and carriage of an irascible old man as he upbraided Clodia not simply for her scandalous public adventures but even for having had contact with any man other than her own relatives or those of her dead husband.[32] Raising the possibility that so forbidding a personage might turn his censure against Caelius as well, Cicero then dismisses the "harsh and almost boorish old man" (36: senem durum ac paene agrestem ) and promises to deal more "urbanely" (36) with Clodia, whereupon he assumes the voice of her brother Clodius, who advises his sister against making a fuss over a lover who had kicked the traces.

In the second part of this series of dramatic personae Cicero addresses Caelius himself. Here, as in the first part, the orator alternates a strict with a lax moral viewpoint. The sentiments expressed by the "iron fathers" drawn from the plays of Caecilius are as rigid and unyielding as those put in the mouth of Claudius Caecus. As the latter had demanded to know how Clodia should have formed any connection with a man unrelated to her, so the Caecilian father demands to know why Caelius would not have fled from proximity to a woman of questionable virtue (37). And, just as the speech of Claudius Caecus was followed by one marked by a stark alteration in moral tone, so the "unendurable" fathers of Caecilius are here followed by the indulgent, city-dwelling father of Terence's Adelphi, who speaks in forgiving words (38).

The disagreeable personae created in these paired sections—Appius Claudius Caecus and the type of the rigid fathers of Roman comedy—are, at least obliquely, a means by which Cicero may question and even poke fun at the moral standards championed by the prosecutor. It is not surprising, therefore, that the section of the speech in which these stern patriarchs appear is immediately followed by one in which Cicero argues that the unbending moral standards of the rude past are inappropriate to the present and that indulgence ought especially to be granted to the behavior of the young (39–43). Despite his earlier assertion that he would refuse to seek refuge from the charges by pleading the excuse of Caelius's youth (30), this is exactly what he does. Here we find the orator claiming that the almost divine virtue of the heroes of the past was no longer to be found; that the Greeks, who at one time at least celebrated virtue in their writings if they could not practice it in their


lives, now taught that the wise did all for the sake of pleasure; that nowadays the individual who rejected all pleasures would be thought by most—if not by Cicero—to be cursed by the gods (42). The section ends with Cicero's plea to his listeners to "leave behind this road now deserted, neglected, and closed off by branches and brambles" (42). He asks them, instead, to grant a measure of freedom to youth and to observe a mean in pursuit both of pleasure and of virtue, neither allowing reason always to prevail nor allowing the desire for pleasure to recognize no limits.

There is much art in the way Cicero questions antique morality in these passages. We have only to remember the fate of Erucius in the Pro Roscio to realize that any sustained attack on the simple and strict mores of the past would have been a dangerous strategy. Cicero had prevailed in the earlier speech chiefly because he was able to convince the jury that the conviction of the innocent Roscius would have represented the acceptance of the violence and corruption of recent times, while Roscius's acquittal would be an affirmation of the simple Roman virtues of earlier days. It would have been shocking indeed if in the Pro Caelio Cicero seemed to be excusing the corruption of his own time and belittling the qualities that had made Rome great. Both his role of pater patriae, voted him by the Senate for his stern defense of the state during the Catilinarian crisis, and that of mentor to the young Caelius would have prevented him from pursuing such a strategy.[33]

Cicero, therefore, wishes to make it appear that the prosecution had championed not simply the higher ethical standard once common but a radical and uncompromising version of that standard, scarcely possible of attainment at any time. For this reason he has not summoned from the past figures like Scipio Aemilianus or Gaius Laelius to represent this ethical viewpoint—men who, according to tradition, balanced their devotion to their country with enjoyment of the pleasures of literature, philosophy, and friendship. Rather, he has called up the daunting figure of Appius Claudius Caecus, a model of rigidity even in his own day. The "almost boorish" (36) Claudius appears impossibly archaic, in the description both of his appearance and of his mores. And Cicero uses him to imply that only such a man—or a Camillus, a Fabricius, or a Curius—was capable of living the kind of life the prosecution demanded of Caelius. In like manner Cicero has carefully chosen as representatives of


this point of view the "iron fathers" (37) of comedy, those hard-bitten old rustic patriarchs who function in the plays as objects of ridicule rather than of respect. The orator goes on to equate this rigid moral standard with that held by those who practiced Stoic philosophy: both are said to have rejected all pleasures and devoted themselves solely to virtue. Cicero's tone throughout—humane, liberal-minded, experienced—is familiar from the Pro Murena, another speech in which he had used humor to disarm the moral seriousness of his opponent. In the earlier speech the orator's commonsensical approach to the challenge of living an honorable life in a naughty world had made an attractive alternative to the priggish and unrealistic Stoicism of Cato the Younger; similarly, in the Pro Caelio, Cicero labels this "ideal" life of unwavering seriousness and high moral purpose impossible of attainment for the majority of men.

Cicero faced another danger in questioning the moral standards of the past and arguing in favor of the more relaxed mores of the sophisticated present, one that can be readily understood by noting the way in which he was able to exploit an aspect of the prosecution's attack on Caelius. In seizing the moral high ground and excoriating Caelius for his immoral life-style, the prosecution had made themselves vulnerable to the counterattack by Cicero that the same arguments might be used to challenge the credibility of Clodia, whose life had likewise been a continuous round of "trips to Baiae, beach parties, dinner parties, revelries, concerts, musical entertainments, and boat parties" (35). And if Cicero was clever enough to understand that the sword that the prosecution wielded could cut both ways, he was also clever enough to understand that the arguments he might use in favor of a more lenient moral code of behavior could be used to excuse Clodia's actions as well those of Caelius. It should be kept in mind that Cicero's attempt to undermine Clodia's credibility in this speech was as important to its success as was his attack on Chrysogonus in the Pro Roscio . Both the foreign-born freedman and the emancipated widow were vulnerable targets; each would fill the role of bête noire, whose unmasking by Cicero would supposedly prevent the unjust conviction of an innocent victim. Cicero had, therefore, to couch his justification of Caelius in such a way as not to imply a justification of Clodia as well (and, conversely, to insure that accusations of Clodia's immorality could not also be used to blacken Caelius's name).

His escape from these difficulties is clever if not admirable. Since a straightforward attack on Clodia's morals might have led to uncomfort-


able questions about the consistency of Cicero's own ethical standards in defending Caelius's behavior, the orator executes the moral condemnation of Clodia for the most part through indirection, ridicule, and sarcasm.[34] As a result of Cicero's use of comic personification and his frequent recourse to double entendres, sly hints, and suggestive jokes, the jury is made to feel that they demonstrate their wide experience of the world and high degree of sophistication by recognizing Clodia as a meretrix, despite her wealth and nobility. In addition, Cicero is able to rely throughout the speech on a familiar double standard in arguing that Caelius's actions were innocuous, while Clodia's deserved condemnation. Since love affairs with prostitutes had traditionally been permitted to young men, but similar affairs were forbidden to women of any age, the orator is able to claim that Caelius's youthful indiscretions were within the bounds of acceptable behavior, even when judged by the strictest of standards, while at the same time suggesting that Clodia's actions cast her beyond the pale of polite society, even when these actions were viewed by the more relaxed standards of the present. The argument is both neat and cynical: Caelius's liaison with Clodia was morally excusable for the young man provided she was a meretrix, and she proved herself to be a meretrix by engaging in this and similar affairs.[35]

In the Pro Caelio, then, Cicero avoids falling into the trap of simply making use of a predictable response to the defense's exploitation of the theme of past virtue and contemporary vice. While he questions the moral standards of the past, he does so in large part indirectly—that is,


by the comical and unattractive personae he chooses to represent these standards. In addition, he makes his audience understand that he rejects the mores of the past as a standard for the present only in their most unrealistic and rigid form, and goes on to argue that with the exception of such "semidivine" individuals as a Claudius Caecus Romans had always allowed young men to indulge in the innocuous pleasures of life.

An Ideal Paideia of the City

The prosecution had made the urban life-style of the defendant a matter of reproach. Caelius's expensive apartment on the Palatine, his gay social life in the city, his trips to Baiae, were all part of the prosecution's picture of a young man who, like many of his day, had succumbed to the luxury and corruption of contemporary Rome. We hardly need look farther than Cicero's own denunciations of Chrysogonus or of Catiline's aristocratic young followers to reconstruct the line of the prosecution's attack. Cicero responds to this attack not only by questioning the antique and rigid moral standards championed by the prosecution but also by presenting his listeners with an alternate description of the city as ethical determinant. He uses the physical environment of the city and the training that could be secured within this setting to imply that—far from being simply a sink of corruption—only contemporary Rome could provide the conditions by which the state might produce for itself the best of men and the best of citizens.

The Urban Setting

The physical environment of the city figures in the Pro Caelio both as the actual setting of the speech and as the setting of many of the events described within the speech, and this environment is made to appear in a lurid and yet attractive light. In this most overtly dramatic of speeches, Cicero begins by asking the audience to see the trial as a performance carried on before the eyes of a visitor to Rome.[36] He asks them to imagine what a stranger would think if he came upon the scene of the trial.


First he would note the festival atmosphere that prevailed at the time: the crowds, the noise, and the entertainments crowding the Forum.[37] Then, according to Cicero, he would wonder that a trial was taking place in the midst of all the merrymaking and would want to know what serious charge required the jury to spend the day in court when their fellow citizens were at play. This exordium encouraged the listeners (as well as the readers, if only imaginatively) to open their eyes and ears to the vitality, excitement, and energy of the world into which this imaginary stranger had been drawn. The jury was thereby encouraged by Cicero to relax their sense of serious purpose and participate in the diverting hubbub that existed everywhere about them. The allusion to the otium that all enjoyed is reminiscent of a passage in the De lege agraria 2. In this speech Cicero had warned against the possibility that his audience would be forced to leave Rome, and had advised them to "hold on to your influence, your freedom, your votes, your status; the city, the Forum, the games, festivals, and all your other enjoyments" (71). In the Pro Caelio, as in the earlier speech, Cicero reinforces his listeners' sense that the city was the center of all activities of value, whether serious or recreational.

This sense of the excitement and interest of the city continues in Cicero's vivid descriptions of various events and individuals. In spite of his feigned horror at the thunderings of the prosecution, the orator would have realized that his audience found tales of life among the demimonde titillating. Evidently, Cicero was not greatly dismayed by the prosecution's references to beach parties, dinner parties, boat parties, musical concerts, trips to Baiae, and the like, for he manages to repeat the catalogue twice himself.[38] His descriptions of Clodia's pleasure-filled days and nights, then, were not only intended to call forth moral condemnation; at the same time, tales of the rich and notorious widow would have seemed hugely entertaining. In fact, in his overall treatment of Clodia we have an excellent example of what Cicero defines early in the speech as urbanitas: that is, scurrilous gossip retailed with wit and humor (6). The audience hears that Clodia's gardens were the scene of assignations; her house, one in which mistress and slave lived in shock-


ing intimacy; and her grounds by the Tiber, a procuring place for the handsome young swimmers who frequented the beach. The story of the attempt to procure the poison in the baths (61–67) produces a variety of amusing images, including that of the group of elegant young men who are said to have hidden in the baths, then burst forth from their hiding places and set off in bumbling pursuit of their terrified quarry.

In the speech, then, Cicero makes the city appear to be the locus of all that is stimulating and amusing. While none of this presents Rome as a moral environment much better than that described in the Pro Roscio, the alteration in tone between the two speeches is of great importance. In the Pro Roscio we noted the audience's willingness to maintain the cultural myth of the superiority of the rustic over the urban environment, and Cicero was able to exploit that willingness by leading his audience to feel that in the case of Roscius reality intersected with myth. In this speech Cicero undercuts the prosecution's attempt to make use of a similar rhetorical topos by identifying it as a topos and arguing that his opponents, in exploiting it, had knowingly divorced themselves from reality (29). As part of this strategy of contrasting his own realistic attitude with the empty rhetoric of the prosecution, Cicero treats the audience throughout the speech as urbane and sophisticated individuals, who can see through the appearances and masks that might fool a more naive spectator. The orator speaks with the understanding that his listeners were the sort of people who could easily recognize the prostitute under the finery of the noblewoman, the dutiful son behind Atratinus's ill-cast role as accuser, or the underlying geniality of the orator Balbus, who had for the dramatic moment of the trial been forced to assume the role of unbending "uncle, censor, and teacher" (25).[39] Such men as the jury, Cicero implies, would realize that the quasi-rustic mores of an Appius Claudius or of the "iron fathers" of comedy were inappropriate to the present, and, although unwilling to countenance criminal or abandoned behavior, they would nevertheless be unlikely to condemn a fellow for "being good-looking" (6) or for "having seen Baiae" (27).


Scholars and Gentlemen

The Pro Caelio is a speech characterized by unusual generosity and civility, for—with the chief exception of Clodia—Cicero is full of praise for a variety of individuals, even his opponents. An analysis of the kind of praise Cicero accords these individuals reveals an ideal urban character and behavior. We are first introduced to the prosecutor, the young Atratinus, whose dutifulness to his father, twice prosecuted by Caelius, Cicero commends. The young man, who was probably about seventeen at the time of the trial, is called humanissimus atque optimus adulescens (2). Clearly this is an individual of merit, hoping to make his way by taking on the prosecution of a man of status and experience. While Cicero is condescending towards the young man, his tone is indeed gentle: he comments favorably upon his filial dutifulness, his industry, and his eloquence. He is praised as well for his modesty, for he cannot speak about the seamier sides of the indictment without a blush. Cicero's disapproval of Atratinus's speech is limited to the boy's embarrassed references to Caelius's moral dissipation: the experienced orator gives him the fatherly advice that he ought to avoid ascribing to others the sort of unsubstantiated charges that might as easily be lodged against himself (8).[40]

Among those mentioned approvingly by Cicero are two other adulescentes . The brothers Titus and Gaius Coponius were guest friends of Dio, who had died under suspicious circumstances in their house. The brothers, who are called to testify on behalf of Caelius, are termed adulescentes humanissimi et doctissimi, rectissimis studiis atque optimis artibus praediti (24), and they mourn Dio's death not simply because of their acquaintanceship with the older man but because he was imbued with a love of "learning and the liberal arts" (24: doctrinae studio atque humanitatis ). Cicero also speaks of Atratinus's coprosecutor, Lucius Herennius Balbus, with respect. The orator claims that, like Atratinus, Balbus has had to play a role in the case at odds with his real feelings; his tirade against abandoned youth and the mores of the time was ill suited to his temperament, which is actually "gentle" (25: mitis ). Cicero goes on to allude to the "attractiveness of his liberal manner, a quality in which almost everyone now takes delight" (25: hac suavitate human-


itatis, qua prope iam delectantur omnes ). Lucius Lucceius, whose deposition on behalf of Caelius is read in court, is similarly described. He is not only a man whose testimony may be believed (54: sanctissimum hominem et gravissimum testem ), he is one who is "endowed with liberality, . . . gentlemanly pursuits, . . . scholarly abilities, . . . and learning" (54: illa humanitate praeditus, illis studiis, illis artibus atque doctrina ).

Cicero has led his audience to believe that all these men possessed certain characteristics in common. They are well read, well spoken, and, most telling, in the case of each Cicero uses some form of the word humanitas . The term is one that reappears throughout the orator's writings, and awareness of its implications is crucial to understanding the thrust of Cicero's praise here. As used in the speeches, humanitas refers to those qualities that combined the traditional virtues of the past with a new refinement of intellect and manner.[41] The word implies, first, the possession of a broad literary education, including familiarity with and enjoyment of poetry, as well as knowledge—although not a specialist's knowledge—of history and philosophy. Humanitas describes a quality of spirit as well, perhaps expressed in its most attractive aspect in the peroration of the Pro Roscio, where Cicero pleads eloquently for the return of the tolerance, pity, and humanity that had once existed in public life. The persona Cicero himself assumes throughout the speech—generous to the young Atratinus, tolerant towards the predictable excesses of youth, sophisticated in his "unmasking" of Clodia's real character—provides a further illustration of the meaning of the term.


Finally, the word refers as well to a standard of style and external conduct: the wit, polished manners, and civilities of speech of which the Pro Caelio is itself an example. The concept of humanitas, then, describes an ethos identified with the city rather than the country, and with the present rather than the past. As M. L. Clarke has noted, "Whatever its origins . . . its refinements belong . . . to a sophisticated, urban civilization with agreed standards of behavior and an appreciation of ease and polish in social relations and wit and style in conversation."[42]

Against this background of praise for the humane and sophisticated virtues of various individuals, Cicero describes the character and career of Caelius himself. The speech reveals him to have been the product of the uniquely Roman combination of educational training and active apprenticeship that was common among the upper classes in Cicero's day.[43] The family arose from a municipium in Picenum, and, while no doubt possessing estates there, Caelius's father resided principally in Rome. His son would have received literary training in both Greek and Latin and, like many of his class, might well have spent time in Athens, capping his earlier studies with attendance on the philosophers and rhetoricians who lectured there. An important, more traditional part of the education of a young man such as Caelius was a close and constant association with eminent older men of high standing in the state. From the wisdom and experience of such elder statesmen a young man was meant to profit, both by continual observation of their activities in public and private and by the intimate conversations that would lead to a close and enduring bond between them. Caelius's father had evidently been a Roman eques of some standing, as he was able to secure as mentors to his son two of the leading politicians and orators of the day, Cicero and Crassus.

In addition to being the recipient of this education, Caelius had especially devoted himself to the task of becoming a distinguished orator. This fact ultimately becomes part of Cicero's defense of the young man's character, for he supports his claim that Caelius's life could be justified


even to the strictest of judges by pointing to Caelius's rhetorical talent and training. His first reference to the defendant had described him as a young man of outstanding intellect, diligence, and influence (1: illustri ingenio, industria, gratia ), and it is the second of these qualities that the orator emphasizes in his subsequent description of Caelius's public career. Cicero points to the eloquence shown by Caelius in his previous prosecutions of Antonius and Bestia and in his speech in his own defense at the current trial. This eloquence, Cicero argues, was not the result of natural ability alone (45: ingenium ) but demonstrated "a method learned through study in the liberal arts and perfected through training and exercise" (45: ratio et bonis artibus instituta et cura et vigiliis elaborata ). No young man who, like Caelius, had endured the discipline of body and mind required to attain such mastery of the art of persuasion could have lived a life devoted to pleasures. Cicero here seems to have altered Cato's well-known maxim, for instead of defining the orator in terms of the moral quality of the man (Sen. Controv. 1 pr. 9: orator est . . . vir bonus dicendi peritus ), Cicero defines the man in terms of his accomplishment as an orator. He contends that if a man is a skilled orator, he proves himself to be a vir bonus as well, since this skill is, first of all, motivated by the noble desire to achieve glory and serve the state, and, second, it is perfected only by study and training so disciplined and rigorous that it leaves no opportunity for moral corruption.

In the last part of the speech (74–80) Cicero summarizes the chief arguments he has made in his defense of Caelius: the young man had early and long devoted himself through training in rhetoric to those activities and studies that would best prepare him for public office, honor, and prestige; his only fault had been an excess of youthful spirit and ambition that had led him—against Cicero's advice—to embark on the prosecution of Antonius and the second prosecution of Bestia; such energy and desire for glory, even though it may lead to errors in judgment, had always been the sign of a young man of great promise. If a shadow had been cast for a brief time over Caelius's personal reputation, it was due only to his unfortunate proximity to a hitherto unfamiliar temptation and to his inexperience of pleasures; this shadow was, however, soon dissipated by Caelius's complete break with Clodia.[44] The orator


ends by asking the jury to save Caelius for his aged father and for the Republic, to the service of which he would continue to devote his life.

This commendation of Caelius's education, style of life, and moral character clearly depends on a political and social viewpoint at odds with that found in the Pro Roscio . In the earlier speech, praise of the country and condemnation of the city had carried with it the understanding that rustic life was superior to urban life, that the past was better than the present, and that human history in general and Roman history in particular represented a gradual decay from an earlier ideal. The Pro Caelio, on the other hand, celebrates the possibilities to be realized in the modern and urban environment. It indicates that the spes rei publicae was not to be found in men like the rustic leaders of the past, who had been drawn from the plow to the consulship; rather, the hope of the state resided in the orator and statesman educated and trained in the sophisticated intellectual and political milieu of the city. This ideal statesman is pictured as a morally upright individual, and yet not one who has excluded all pleasures and forms of relaxation from his life; he is a man who, while not necessarily of noble birth, possesses native ability, and this ability has been carefully channeled and refined by a broad education, extensive experience, and personal application. The speech thus rejects the Roman commonplace that attributes moral corruption to the growth of sophistication by connecting intellectual development with moral worth. According to the Pro Caelio, it is the advanced education and training of the skilled orator that discipline his character, allow him to fulfill his potential as a citizen, and create the possibility that he may become the kind of leader most needed in a time of intense crisis within the Republic. In his first extant work on rhetoric, the De inventione, Cicero had pictured the orator as the individual who had raised his companions from savagery to civilization. At the beginning of the treatise he had stated that it had been due to the power of rhetoric that some great and wise man had been able to convince his fellows—who had hitherto lived in the fields like wild animals and had been ruled by their desires and by the power of violence—to come together in settled communities, to pursue useful occupations, and to keep faith and observe justice (1.1–3). In the Pro Caelio the orator has gone beyond the ideas found in this early and derivative work and has fore-


shadowed the conception found in his magnum opus on rhetoric, the De oratore, that the great orator embodies the culmination of the education and culture of the day. At the same time, he makes clear in the Pro Caelio that it is the city alone that is able to produce such an individual.

In Utramque Partem

The picture of the world that emerged from Ciceronian rhetoric was never simply black or white but was both black and white. That is, strong statements of the positive aspects of a place are often balanced at other times and in other speeches by equally strong statements in which the negative aspects of the same place are demonstrated. This was to be expected, in light of the varying exigencies of times and subjects, of the training in speaking in utramque partem designed to anticipate the arguments of one's opponent, and of the existence of commonplaces providing negative and positive positions on the same subject. This was also to be expected when we keep in mind that the orator was attempting to respond to his audience's prejudices about the world, and when we remember that the Roman audience of the late Republic had no single vision of reality. Like all of us, they were capable of entertaining various, often mutually inconsistent ideas about places and the people in them.

The necessity for such reversals of position, as well as the embarrassment they might cause, is referred to in the Pro Cluentio . Here the prosecution had read out a statement from an earlier case in which Cicero implied that his present client had been guilty of bribing a jury. Cicero defends himself by arguing that since any given speech of an advocate reflected the requirements of a specific case rather than his private opinions, consistency should not be expected.[45] In spite of this statement it


would be incorrect to assume that the orator's ability to argue both sides of an issue signals that one or both of his positions must have been divorced from his privately held thoughts and opinions. The capacity to adopt attitudes that, from a logical standpoint, were mutually exclusive was one Cicero not only exploited in his audience but discovered in himself as well. Surely when Cicero came to devise a strategy for the defense of Roscius he drew not only on the commonplaces of rhetoric but on his own deep attachment to the rural countryside and to the life of the old municipal towns—an attachment best illustrated by the introductory passages of the second book of the De legibus, which are filled with his delight in the sights and sounds of his native Arpinum.[46] Similarly, Cicero's celebration of the urban environment in the Pro Caelio was at once a rhetorical strategy intended to manipulate the feelings of his audience and at the same time the autobiographical expression of a man whose attachment to the city was so intense that he seemed unable to conceive of any meaningful existence outside of Rome.[47]

It should also be remembered that arguing in utramque partem was not only an important part of the training of a young orator; it was also intimately related to the philosophical technique for determining truth advocated by the "New Academy," to which Cicero acknowledged allegiance. According to Carneades and his followers, it was impossible for an individual to decide what was true in an absolute sense; conditional truth, however, could be rationally determined by setting forth arguments on either side of an issue and weighing their comparative validity. Of the two sides, that which appeared more probably true might be assented to as true for all practical purposes. This skeptical calculus was so close to the exercises of rhetorical training that Cicero called this system of philosophy one "that gives birth to fluency in speaking" (Para. 2: quae peperit dicendi copiam ).

In addition to demonstrating Cicero's adeptness in exploiting two contrasting points of view vis-à-vis the rural and the urban environ-


ments, the Pro Roscio and the Pro Caelio show Cicero's ability to identify himself with two very different clients.[48] In the earlier speech, delivered at a time when the orator was still relatively unknown, he was able to adapt his own persona to that of the defendant. He therefore depicted himself, like Roscius, as a man of limited talent and few resources, struggling against the overwhelming power and influence of his opponents.[49] By the date of the Pro Caelio, however, Cicero was a man of authority, influence, and—at the moment—wide popularity. In the speech, therefore, he uses his own public image as the model on which to form the persona assigned to Caelius. In reality Caelius seems to have been an ambitious, even ruthless young man of few scruples, but in the speech his background, training, dedication to oratory, political loyalties, and devotion to the Republic are claimed to mirror Cicero's own.[50] Caelius's infatuation with Catiline, like his affair with Clodia, is depicted as a youthful error within a life otherwise devoted to the same goals and ideals as those of Cicero, and Caelius's willingness to prosecute Antonius and Bestia against Cicero's advice is likewise portrayed not as an action separating the two men in principle but as proof of the ambition and spirit of the younger man.[51] In the peroration Cicero, pledging that Caelius will never deviate from the principles that have guided his own life, goes so far as to ask the jury to base their judgment of Caelius on their assessment of his own services to the Republic (77: promitto hoc vobis et rei publicae spondeo, si modo nos ipsi rei publicae satis fecimus, numquam hunc a nostris rationibus seiunctum fore ). Again, as in the case of Cicero's treatment of the rural and urban environments, this plea is "rhetorical" in that its raison d'être was to induce


the jury to acquit Caelius. But without denying this rhetorical intent, we may observe that Cicero has judged that the most effective strategy for making the defendant acceptable to his audience was to construct Caelius's persona in his own image.

Evidently Cicero did not misjudge his audience in pursuing this strategy, for Caelius was indeed acquitted. The glory of this victory, however, would be short-lived, as the surge of power and popularity Cicero experienced in the years immediately following his return from exile in 57 B.C. would soon subside before the renewed amicitia among Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey and the subsequent dissolution of the state into chaos, violence, and, ultimately, civil war. Thus the Pro Caelio would be Cicero's last great victory until the death of Caesar signaled the beginning of the final act in the orator's political and oratorical career.


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