Rhetoric, Roman Values, and the Fall of the Republic in Cicero's Reception of Plato

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2016

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Atkins, Jed

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Abstract

This dissertation seeks to identify what makes Cicero’s approach to politics unique. The author's methodology is to turn to Cicero’s unique interpretation of Plato as the crux of what made his thinking neither Stoic nor Aristotelian nor even Platonic (at least, in the usual sense of the word) but Ciceronian. As the author demonstrates in his reading of Cicero’s correspondences and dialogues during the downward spiral of a decade that ended in the fall of the Republic (that is, from Cicero’s return from exile in 57 BC to Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon in 49 BC), it is through Cicero's reading of Plato that the former develops his characteristically Ciceronian approach to politics—that is, his appreciation for the tension between the political ideal on the one hand and the reality of human nature on the other as well as the need for rhetoric to fuse a practicable compromise between the two. This triangulation of political ideal, human nature, and rhetoric is developed by Cicero through his dialogues "de Oratore," "de Re publica," and "de Legibus."

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Dudley, Robert (2016). Rhetoric, Roman Values, and the Fall of the Republic in Cicero's Reception of Plato. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12884.

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