BMCR 2008.03.04

Cicero, Philippics 3-9. Volume 1. Introduction, Text and Translation. Volume 2. Commentary. Texte und Kommentare, 30

, , Cicero, Philippics 3-9. Texte und Kommentare ; Bd. 30. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2007. 2 volumes : maps ; 24 cm.. ISBN 3110193256 €157.01.

Throughout the twentieth century, Cicero’s Philippic Orations were to a large degree neglected by scholars of Latin literature. To comprehend them, it was realized, requires deep immersion in the tangled circumstances following Caesar’s death, and, after such a careful study, it is nearly impossible not to have one’s esteem for Cicero diminished. Never as in this last set of speeches, it seems, did Cicero’s strategy so spectacularly, and almost immediately, backfire—at least for Cicero himself: the future Augustus obtained exactly what he needed for the short term and in a quick volte face made his peace with Antonius, while the published orations also conveniently survived to strengthen the assault on Antonius in the years to come. The Philippics were left mainly to historians, who told the story of their composition with sympathy, spite, or even, sometimes, objectivity.

Yet if one acknowledges that the speeches were, at least in part, successful in achieving their short term aims, they would seem to offer a special opportunity, an intensive stream of oratory—focused on a single theme, shifting in strategy as the circumstances demanded, delivered before both the Senate and the People—which can illumine not merely Cicero’s tragedy or folly or miscalculations but also Ciceronian rhetoric and rhetoric in the Roman Republic more generally, as well as the increasingly prominent role of political pamphlets in Cicero’s lifetime. As scholarly interest in rhetoric and the dissemination through literature of political ideology has increased, it is not surprising that the Philippics are now receiving their due. An edited collection has been put together, and, even more fundamental, new editions are appearing: building on the textual groundwork of Paolo Fedeli and D. R. Shackleton Bailey, commentaries primarily on individual speeches have been published in the last few years, to which Gesine Manuwald adds this invaluable contribution.1 It is a massive work, and it is generous, trying to meet different needs, historical as well as philological (not that the two categories should be sharply divided). Packed with information, it is still easy to use, for which Manuwald and her publisher, de Gruyter, deserve much praise.

To facilitate study, and because of its bulk, the edition is thoughtfully divided into two volumes. The first, slimmer, part contains introductory material (pp. 1-162), Latin text and English translation of Philippics 3-9 (pp. 164-291), a very rich bibliography (pp. *1-*46), and good indexes of persons, sites, and subjects (pp. *47-*56). The second part, running to about 800 pages, comprises only the commentary.

There was a practical reason to begin with the Third Philippic : in 2003, John Ramsey published a valuable edition and commentary on Philippics 1-2.2 There is, Manuwald argues, a good literary reason as well. Within the corpus of fourteen speeches, the third marks a clear turning point: delivered to the Senate on 20 December 44 BCE, it attacks an Antonius who has left Rome, is to be conceived of as a public enemy, and will be resisted by the (unlikely) combination of forces under the future Augustus and Decimus Brutus, the enigmatic favorite of Caesar who lured the Dictator to his death on the Ides of March. This speech is fundamental for the rest, and more than once Cicero would say that it was on the twentieth of December that he laid the foundations of the res publica.3 Manuwald finds plausible Wilfried Stroh’s theory that the third speech of the transmitted collection in fact starts the corpus of Philippics Cicero intended; Philippics Three to Fourteen (as presently numbered) would yield a group of twelve, echoing the cycle of Demosthenes’ twelve speeches against Philip that appeared in ancient editions, as well as the twelve orationes consulares deemed by Cicero to form a corpus, also explicitly on the model of Demosthenes.4 (Cicero’s First Philippic is famously different from the rest of the speeches, and the Second Philippic is modeled after Demosthenes’ On the Crown; if these came to be called Philippics only later, perhaps, Manuwald suggests, the same may have happened to other speeches, including the mysterious Philippics 16 and 17 referred to by the grammarian Arusianus Messius: Cicero gave more speeches in this period than those in our corpus). Within Stroh’s group of twelve, the Tenth Philippic also marks a turning point: the first embassy to Antonius has failed, and attention shifts to affairs in the east. The Ninth Philippic thus marks a good ending point for Manuwald, and appropriately enough, Ramsey is at work on an edition of the final five speeches. (It is also good news that Manuwald and Ramsey together are preparing a new Loeb edition, based on a revision of Shackleton Bailey’s text and translation.)

The introduction covers the corpus as a whole and is now the best starting point for students of these speeches, furnishing much information necessary for interpretation. Manuwald is meticulous in presenting the views of others, so that readers will be able to make up their own mind about the main issues. The discussion of the composition of the corpus, its title, and publication is especially useful. Also included is a cautious sketch of the ‘Historical Background’, in which more might have been said about whether Decimus Brutus’ edict alone could have moved Cicero to speak on 20 December: I am inclined to believe, as Cassius Dio 45.15.1 suggests, that an understanding also had been worked out between Decimus and Octavianus and that there was more behind the Senate meeting than first meets the eye;5 a prosopography of ‘People Involved’; a long section on ‘Strategic Elements’ (with an interesting adaptation at pp. 110-12 of Classen’s 1982 paper “Ciceros Kunst der Überredung”6); analysis of ‘Rhetorical and Stylistic Aspects’, with attention to Cicero’s clearer and simpler style and Wooten’s idea of a ‘rhetoric of crisis’;7 lengthy remarks on ‘Relevance of Demosthenes and Atticism’, showing that Cicero’s uses of Demosthenes has a “programmatic dimension” on the literary, and not merely political, level; very brief comments on ‘Relationship to Contemporary Ciceronian Works’ and ‘Reception in Antiquity’, two rich topics deserving further exploration: Manuwald does not, for instance, mention here Appian and Dio’s versions of the Philippics and the elaborate speeches of Piso and Calenus they respectively include.

One subject touched on more briefly by Manuwald I believe did deserve fuller treatment. Manuwald in general is committed to the (common) view that the published versions of Cicero’s speeches are fairly close to the delivered ones, but whether that is true or not (the evidence makes it impossible to be certain), a speech, when available in written form, can influence a wider audience, well beyond the city of Rome. Some of the Philippics, including Philippic 2, were demonstrably sent by Cicero to friends, and Atticus was told to be discreet in sharing Philippic 2 with others, implying that more widespread distribution was regular.8 Hence, Manuwald argues, it is plausible that Cicero’s speeches were quickly made available one by one (an activity probably distinct from assembling the corpus of Philippics proper); “publication and distribution of political utterances increased during the last years of the Roman Republic,” she comments (60). A single, but very revealing, example from the Philippics themselves would have been worth emphasizing: after Cicero landed in Rhegium (on the toe of Italy) in August 44 BC, he says, a copy of a speech Antonius delivered to the people was made available to Cicero by the townspeople, along with an edictum of Brutus and Cassius.9 As the threat of civil war loomed, all of Italy was to be won over—including military recruits—not just audiences in Rome, and all the towns needed to be addressed in 44 and 43 BC, just as they were in 49 BC, when Caesar broadcast letters at the start of the conflict with Pompey and the Senate.10 The Philippics should, then, be contextualized not only as rhetoric but as political pamphlets, and could be related more to other innovative works and developments such as Caesar’s commentaries and open letters, the published acta senatus, the edicts of Bibulus from 59 BC, the Cato literature, the edicts of Brutus and Cassius, Pollio’s speeches against Plancus, and so forth.

To look beyond the introduction: Manuwald’s Latin text is based mainly on a deep and open-minded study of the editions of Fedeli and Shackleton Bailey, as well as A. C. Clark’s Oxford text of 1918. Manuwald confirms earlier views on the relation of the manuscripts, and does not, insofar as I could tell, propose new readings or emendations of the transmitted text. Hence there is not a full apparatus, but only indication through footnotes of alternative readings when Manuwald discusses the text in the commentary: these discussions are brief and clear. Additionally, a table (155-62) tabulates all instances where she and the three earlier editors do not agree. In general, she is fairly conservative: “For the majority of problematic passages it turns out that the transmitted text of V and/or D (after the necessary correction of scribal errors) make sense when it is suitably punctuated or when Cicero’s suggestive and allusive way of presentation is borne in mind” (152).

The translation frequently reproduces that of Shackleton Bailey (permission having been sought from the University of North Carolina Press) and is therefore similarly readable; the main divergences stem from Manuwald’s inclination to follow the structure of the Latin more closely.

Finally, to the heart of this work, the commentary itself. Each of the seven speeches covered receives a substantial introduction, setting out the background of the speech, its aim and strategy, its structure (the last conveniently outlined). The introductions to Philippics 3 and 4 are especially full, the latter offering a survey of differences between oratory delivered before Senate and People and the different function these speeches delivered on the same day serve in the corpus: as Manuwald points out, “it is not only the audiences that differ, but also the situations” (473). The introduction to Philippic 9 shows how the motion to honor Sulpicius Rufus and Cicero’s eulogy of the man reinforce, from a different direction, Cicero’s attack against Antonius: the speech is properly part of the corpus.

Longer notes introduce each section of the speech, fleshing out the sub-divisions assigned in the introduction and further elucidating the orator’s techniques of argumentation. Shorter notes comment on individual words or phrases (which are clearly set off and printed in bold for easy consultation). Here Manuwald treats not only textual criticism, but also thoroughly covers (separate) matters of Latin idiom and diction, identifies all Realien, and further elucidates rhetorical technique. Throughout, references to secondary literature (some of it quite recent) are copiously integrated—perhaps occasionally to excess: does one need (e.g.) references to page numbers in MRR for the career of Gaius Marius? An especially valuable feature is full attestation of parallel passages in the Philippics : for instance, throughout the corpus Marcus Antonius’ brother Lucius is referred to as a gladiator, and the note on Phil. 3.31 ( myrmillone) introduces the matter and provides all the cross-references (which in turn cite this note).

With this commentary Gesine Manuwald has solidified and advanced our understanding of these orations of Cicero and will facilitate further research on them in years to come. It is a Herculean achievement, which should make possible a deeper understanding of the rich resources of Ciceronian rhetoric. One must only be careful, as Ronald Syme warned long ago, not to let Cicero’s voice entirely drown out the others, or one of the greatest lessons of the Philippics has to offer will not be learned. “There was another side—not Antonius only, but the neutrals.”11 Had Cicero not entered the fray, the advocates of concord and compromise might have had more of a chance. To be sure, the Republican constitution was weak, dangerous precedents had been set. The future of Rome seemed to be up for grabs. But Cicero, and his Philippics, in the end did nothing to save the Republic, arguably hastened its end, and certainly helped send to their death an unknown number of young Italian soldiers who, hungry for land and money, were dragged into the struggle.

Cicero’s victories were only illusions; as Asinius Pollio wrote to him after hearing of Antonius’ defeat at the battles at Mutina, “If some are rejoicing at the moment, because both the leaders and veterans of Caesar’s party appear to have perished, they will still have to grieve before long when they behold the devastation of Italy.”12


1. T. Stevenson and M. Wilson, Cicero’s Philippics: History, Rhetoric, and Ideology (Prudentia 37, 2007): non vidi. Recent editions are Philippics 1-2 by J. Ramsey (Cambridge, 2003); of Philippic 2 by R. Cristofoli (Roma, 2004); of Philippic 3 by C. Monteleone (Fasano, 2003); of Philippic 4 also by Monteleone (Bari, 2005); of Philippic 13 by C. Novielli (Bari, 2001).

2. See n. 1 above.

3. Already the idea is expressed at Phil. 4.1; see also Phil. 5.30, 6.2, 14.20; Fam. 10.28.2 (= SB 364), 12.25.2 (= SB 373).

4. W. Stroh, “Ciceros demosthenische Redezyklen,” MH 40 (1983), 35-50. For the orationes quae consulares nominarentur see Att. 2.1.3 (= SB 21).

5. To be sure, there is no sign of this in Cicero’s letter to Decimus written on the evening of the 20th of December ( Fam. 11.6a [= SB 356]), but Cicero had reason to stay guarded in a letter that could fall into hostile hands.

6. C. Classen, “Ciceros Kunst der Überredung,” in W. Stroh et al., Éloquence et rhétorique chez Cicéron. Sept exposés suivis de discussions (Vandoeuvres-Genève 1982), 149-84.

7. C. Wooten, Cicero’s Philippics and their Demosthenic Model: the Rhetoric of Crisis. Chapel Hill and London, 1983.

8. Att. 15.13.1 (= SB 416), 15.13a.3 (= SB 417), 16.11.1-4 (= SB 420), 16.14.4 (= SB 425); ad Brut. 2.3.4 (= SB 2), 2.4.2 (= SB 4); cf. Fam. 12.2.1 (= SB 344).

9. Phil. 1.8; cf. Att. 16.7.1 (= SB 415). Again, note what Att. 16.11.1 (= SB 420) implies about circulation of a speech under normal circumstances. See also my Caesar’s Legacy (Cambridge, 2006), 42 n. 95.

10. Dio 41.10.2 (and cf. Caesar’s letter at Cic. Att. 9.7c [= SB 174C].

11. R. Syme, The Roman Revolution (Oxford, 1939), 146.

12. Fam. 10.33.1 (= SB 409).