Through references to famous personal forefathers the nobiles can exploit the cultural memory attached to their names and reap symbolic capital in their election. Non-nobiles could also have good connections, but Cicero emphasizes that nobilitas helped. In his defences of P. Cornelius Sulla in 62 BC and L. Valerius Flaccus in 59 BC, Cicero refers to their. In Verr.
This distinction is spurred by the circumstances of the case in which a nobilis L. Aurelius Cotta had proposed the bill of changing the juries from purely senatorial to include equestrians as well, which was remarkable for a nobilis senator. For Cicero, optimates meant the good and sensible men of the state and this group was not necessarily identical with the nobiles: Cic.
In fact, Cicero warns against the corruption and degeneration of nobiles leaders Leg.
Popilius Laenas and Q. Caecilius Metellus Numidicus possible, as Cicero argued in Cic. His purpose was to distinguish his own recall from exile as an extraordinary achievement given his novitas. Furthermore, he bases an emotional plea to the judges on the fact that a conviction would strip an illustrious nobilis and his whole family of their well-earned senatorial status.
Cicero even suggests that the nobiles stand above the law because of their good services to the res publica. Juventius Laterensis, an unsuccessful candidate in the election which made Plancius an aedile, was angry with the equestrian Plancius for having won a seat, while he himself, a nobilis, had not. Laterensis therefore prosecuted Plancius on the grounds of ambitus electoral bribery. Most homines novi came from enfran- chised Italian towns, municipia, such as Marius and Cicero from Arpinum.
In this way they used not only to reward excellent actions but also to pardon their crimes. Itaque non solum recte factis eorum praemia sed etiam delictis veniam dare solebant. Nobilis and homo novus 45 enfranchised in BC. This municipal background formed part of the disadvantage of novitas in Roman political life because it indicated a lack of Roman magistrates in the family and a consequent lack of ancestral backing. Cicero, however, tries to turn this disadvantage into an advantage in his defence of Plancius.
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He argues that the disadvantages of novitas can some- times be compensated by a loyal backing from a municipal town for its promising citizen and he supports his argument with historical exempla, including that of himself. In this sense, the homo novus Plancius has an advantage which the nobilis Laterensis cannot claim. Indeed, Cicero points out that municipal supporters of a novus can outnumber supporters of nobiles at elections. It is therefore plausible that the Tusculans who had been enfranchised long before the Atinates would perceive themselves to be of higher status.
See also Farney 45—9; Bispham —4. This passage is discussed in Roloff 6—8; Lomas 97—8, ; Dench See also Dyck b ad loc. He alleges that. If we can take the Commentariolum Petitionis as a product of the late Republic, it supports 3, 24, 29—31, 50 this thought by arguing that many municipia are loyal to Cicero and that their loyalty will be an advantage in the elections. This will not only be important in the actual voting but also in the preceding canvass in Rome where a candidate should display a throng of followers when parading through the city.
He was patronus of Arpinum Cic.
Salmon ; Deniaux —8, —7, —5, —41, —2; Lomas ; Deniaux Lomas — Nobilis and homo novus 47 Laterensis felt a duty to live up to his illustrious ancestors by attaining the magistracy: You ask too, Laterensis, what you can say to the masks of your ancestors, what you can say to the most honourable and excellent man, your late father. Do not think of that and take care your complaint and excessive pain shall not instead be censured by those most wise men. Your father saw that Appius Claudius, a most noble man, while his brother, that most powerful and excellent citizen C.
Claudius, was alive, was not elected aedile and yet the same man was made consul without defeat.
See also Cic. Again, the constitutio generalis admits of being divided into — a. The choice and interpretation of a historical exemplum to support a person or an argu- ment can only be a success if deemed appropriate by the audience. Peterson, W. In this passage, there are many layers of thought, which run alongside each other giving different facets of the idea of exemplarity.
This passage illustrates some features of the ideology of the nobiles; they could be expected to feel the duty to strive after, and achieve, as much as their ancestors had. However, the implication of this passage is that this kind of argument had force and must have been in general use. The shamefulness of underachievement and the sense of familial duty spurred both arrogance and a feeling of enmity towards the novi. Furthermore, this enmity sometimes resulted. Noli ista meditari atque illud cave potius ne tua ista querela dolorque nimius ab illis sapientissimis viris reprendatur. Claudio, aedilem non esse factum et eundem sine repulsa factum esse consulem.
This thought goes back to, at least, Polybius 6. For discussion see esp. Antonius Hybrida cos. See Flower for a thorough analysis and discussion of the nature and role of the imagines in Roman politics and society. Licinius Murena had been elected consul in 63 BC, together with D.
Junius Silanus. Immediately after the election, Murena was prosecuted for ambitus by the unsuccessful candidate, the nobilis and patrician Servius Sulpicius Rufus and three other prosecutors.
Cicero, among others, defended Murena and his main argument for acquittal was the need for a strong consul who could steer the country through the threat posed by Catiline and his followers in both Rome and the countryside, and the insecurity a further election round would impose on the res publica and the Roman people.
Simultaneously, Cicero argued that Murena was innocent and that the prose- cution was merely a result of the jealousy and disappointment of Sulpicius for having lost the election to Murena, who came from a plebeian family with only praetors and not consuls of which to boast. See also Beck on the fading of symbolic capital associated with a consular ancestry.
Going from the argument that Murena has almost the same birthright to the consulship as Sulpicius because of his distinguished ancestors, Cicero moves on to align Murena with great homines novi of the past. Finally, Cicero employs his own example of a homo novus overcoming the obstacle of novitas in an attempt to dismiss this whole discussion of ancestry and birthright to the consulship altogether and to break down entirely the notion of a political distinction between nobiles and novi.
However, Cicero is deliberately unclear about what constituted these categories, or whether Murena was either a nobilis or a novus. In 63 BC, Cicero was at the pinnacle of this success, being consul and in the middle of saving the res publica from the threat posed by the Catilinarian conspirators.
Both Laterensis and Sulpicius clearly felt a certain enmity towards their rival candidates.
Here, Cicero depicts the ways in which the enmity of the nobiles complicates the political advancement of the new men, taking himself as an exemplum. For the homo novus, such as himself, any wrong move or opening for insult will be attacked by the nobiles. The homines novi have to present themselves as especially virtuous. Cato Maior achieved his political successes because of his virtue virtus , not his birth genus , and reached his aim of enhancing his family name through political success, but also by incurring the hatred of the nobiles.
Likewise the new men Q. Pompeius cos. Flavius Fimbria, C. Marius, and C. Brunt , n. The envy of the nobiles is emphasized in other passages: Sest. See also Comment. Interestingly, Cicero imagines that Verres had tried to present his actions as a defence of nobilitas against homines novi instead of simply extortion. See Epstein 48—56 on the inimicitiae towards new men. Nobilis and homo novus 51 the nobiles founded on play and negligence ludus and neglegentia.
When Cicero does not name virtus directly, the passages simply exude virtus from his descriptions of the ways in which the new men achieved their political successes. They cover up their shortcomings in election campaigns by referring to the achievements of their ancestors, displaying industry and modesty, but once elected they show their true and depraved nature. By such references to their ancestors, the nobiles are not accruing glory but instead shame because their own short- comings are highlighted.
They are furthermore envious of the homines novi. Coelius Caldus and C. Caelius Caldus. RE and Wiseman prefer Coelius, but to avoid confusion both spellings are included at each mention in the following. See also the description of this ideology of the homines novi in Wiseman — Allen emphasizes the validity of these terms in Roman political culture. Marius and other novi cannot depend on ancestral merit and must therefore rely on their own virtue virtus and innocence innocentia instead.
He has no inherited statues, triumphs, or consulships but instead his own military spoils and even the scars on his body to exemplify his valour and virtue on behalf of the res publica. Sallust makes sure to cover all the aspects of the homo novus-ideology in this speech. For the theme of battle-scars as emblem of virtue see Leigh For a discussion of the term virtus in Sallust see Balmaceda chapter 3. For a compari- son between the political usage of these concepts of virtus, nobilitas, and novitas in Cicero and Sallust see Earl 28—40; Wiseman discusses possible other earlier sources for these concepts.
Nobilis and homo novus 53 of Q. Cicero employs the ideology of homines novi directly in his invective of Piso, the In Pisonem of 55 BC: Does he even boast in front of me of having reached all magistracies without a single defeat? I can proclaim true glory in this on my own behalf; for the Roman people conferred all honours on myself.
Likewise the praetorship was conferred on your ancestors [rather than on Piso himself]. In his reaction, Cicero employs the ideology of the homines novi by arguing that he, as a homo novus, stands alone and achieves as a result of his own character and previous merits.
Mihi ista licet de me vera cum gloria praedicare; omnis enim honores populus Romanus mihi ipsi homini detulit. Praetura item maioribus delata est tuis. Me cum quaestorem in primis, aedilem priorem, praetorem primum cunctis suffragiis populus Romanus faciebat, homini ille honorem non generi, moribus non maioribus meis, virtuti perspectae non auditae nobilitati deferebat.
Who these vigilant, good, strong, and compassionate people are is not exactly clear.