Cicero : 'haruspex' vicissitudinum mutationisque rei publicae : a study of Cicero's merit as political analyst

Schneider, Maridien (2000-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study is to explore Marcus Tullius Cicero's awareness and interpretation of contemporary political events as reflected in his private correspondence during the last years of both the Roman republic and his own life. Cicero's correspondence gives a detailed view of current political events in Rome and constitutes, with Caesar's own narrative, our major contemporary evidence for the circumstances of the civil war of 49 BC. The dissertation takes as Leitmotiv Cicero's own judgement of the state as 'sacrificial victim' to the ambitions of individual politicians, with as metaphor his examination of a 'dying' body politic in the manner of a haruspex inspecting the entrails of a sacrificial animal. It poses the question whether Cicero understood the message of political decline signalled by the 'entrails' of the 'carcass' of the res publica, and whether this ability in its turn enabled him to anticipate future political development in Rome. In what follows, the theoretical input of Cicero's predecessors, their perceptions of constitutional development, and of Roman politics in particular, as well as Cicero's own perception of their political theories will be considered in order to determine the extent of Cicero's awareness of a larger pattern of political events, and how consistent he was in his analyses of such patterns, that is, to what extent Cicero may be considered seriously as a political analyst.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die oogmerk van die verhandeling is om vas te stel of Marcus Tullius Cicero met reg daaop kan aanspraak maak dat hy eietydse politieke gebeure sinvol kon interpreteer as die manifestering van 'n nuwe politieke stroming wat die voorkoms van die toekomstige Romeinse politieke toneel sou bepaal. Cicero se waarneming en begrip van eietydse politieke gebeure in die laaste paar jaar van die Romeinse Republiek en sy eie lewe word tekenend weerspieël in sy persoonlike briefwisseling uit die tydperk 51 tot 43 v.C. As historiese dokument bied hierdie korrespondensie, as primêre bronmateriaal, naas die behoue kontemporêre beriggewing van Julius Caesar, die enigste ander kontemporêre getuienis vir die uitbreek en nadraai van die burgeroorlog van 49 v.C. Die sentrale tema van die verhandeling is Cicero se persepsie van die Romeinse staat as die 'slagoffer' van magsugtige politieke rolspelers. Cicero se rol as waarnemer en politieke analis word uitgebeeld deur die metafoor van 'n haruspex (profeet) wat die 'ingewande' van die 'karkas' van die gestorwe Romeinse Republiek ondersoek. Die kernvraag wat gestel word is, of Cicero inderdaad daartoe in staat was om die boodskap van politieke verandering raak te lees, die implikasies daarvan te begryp en daarvolgens 'n beredeneerde toekomsprojeksie van die Romeinse politieke toneel te maak. Om te bepaal of Cicero meriete verdien as 'n politieke analis, word die volgende kriteria as toetsstene gebruik: die teoretiese insette van Cicero se voorgangers en sy beheersing van sodanige politieke teoretisering, die mate waarin hy konsekwent en objektief kon oordeel, en die mate waarin hy teorie en die praktiese werklikheid van die Romeinse politieke situasie kon integreer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/51653
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