Utinam Avum Tuum Meminisses! Threats and Allusions in the First Philippic

In: Mnemosyne


In sections 34-35 of the First Philippic, Cicero makes a powerful threat against Antony by engaging in allusive role-play that makes dual use of Marcus Antonius orator as an exemplum. Cicero first declares himself Antonius to Antony’s Cinna, thus acknowledging the limitations of rhetoric in the face of violence and indicating that he is prepared to accept a martyr’s role. Second, Cicero invites conflation of himself with Marius/Cinna and Antony to his grandfather Antonius, thereby declaring that Cicero had decided to oppose Antony and work towards Antony’s destruction. This role-play represents not only a powerful warning to Antony, but also a sign of Cicero’s change in attitude towards Antony, an attitudinal change reinforced by Cicero’s wordplay on reversio. The allusive threats in sections 34-35 also indicate that Cicero had decided by no later than 2 September 44, and not with the dissemination of the Second Philippic, that there would be no reconciliation between himself and Antony.

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