Cicero's alternative claims to ancestry

Henriette van der Blom

in Cicero's Role Models

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199582938
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723124 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Classical Monographs

Cicero's alternative claims to ancestry

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Cicero's chief means in the fight for political office and influence was his oratorical skills. With his oratory, Cicero could counter the challenge of being a new man in an ancestral culture. Whilst rejecting the nobiles' argument from ancestry, Cicero adopted a similar tactic and argued for three alternative claims to ancestry: that some Romans were such great men that they stood as exempla for all Romans; that past homines novi stood as exempla for aspiring new men; and, finally, that one could choose to imitate specific historical individuals as one's personal exempla. This chapter introduces and analyses these three alternative claims to ancestry, and furthermore takes up the question of whether the interlocutors in his dialogues can be understood as representations of personal exempla. The third claim, that from personal exempla, is by far the most substantial and sophisticated of the three claims in Cicero's works and will be analysed in depth in Chapter 8.

Keywords: claim to ancestry; Maiores as exempla; exemplary homines novi; personal exempla; interlocutors as exempla

Chapter.  12012 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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