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This paper examines Cicero’s self-presentation in the second Philippic oration and his casting of himself in opposition to Marc Antony, particular in regard to themes of conjugal and marital virtue. I argue that Cicero attempts to augment his own claim to be helmsman of the Roman state by portraying himself as metaphorically married to the Republic: Cicero, throughout the Philippics, bolsters his own virtues by portraying himself in opposition to Antony’s vices, particularly Antony’s many sexual and romantic misdeeds, including his “marriage” to the younger Curio. This comparison points not only to Cicero’s own sexual virtue, but also to Cicero’s own marital virtue. Furthermore, as his marriages to Terentia and Publilia had both collapsed by the time of the writing of the Philippics, neither marriage could be considered useful as a point of comparison against Antony, and Cicero therefore ought to read as presenting another marriage of his which would properly contrast with Antony’s improper relationship with Curio: to that end, there is no wife as exemplary of Roman virtue as the res publica herself, a proposition reinforced by Cicero’s self-presentation as a protector and defender of the state and his own use of the metaphor of birth in relation to the state. Taking under consideration that Cicero had been hailed as pater patriae twenty years earlier, this presentation is an attempt to prove that Cicero is the rightful leader of the Roman state and the paterfamilias of the Roman people, particularly given a post-Caesarian Rome in which Cicero jostled with an Antony who, as Caesar’s right hand man and consul for the year, held some claim to inheritance of Caesar’s title of parens patriae.


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  • Alternative title
    • The Marriage of Cicero

  • DPLA rights
  • Journal title
    • Papers & Publications

  • Volume
    • 6

  • Issue
    • 1

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Many thanks to Dr. Jonathan Zarecki, who believed in me as a scholar even when I did not, and to Dr. Christopher Craig, whose bit of bibliographical advice was of immeasurable help.

      Author Biography:

      Elijah J Mears is an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, majoring in Classical Languages & Literature and minoring in Archaeology. He is active within the Classics community at his school, serving as Tribune of the Webs for the UNCG Classical Society; he also serves on the boards of the UNCG College Democrats and UNCG Hillel. His primary research interests include the late Roman republic, ancient sexuality, the Jewish diaspora in the Roman world, and Cicero’s oratory. He will be applying to various graduate programs in the fall of 2017 in preparation to continue his work at that level and beyond, with an eventual ambition of receiving a doctoral degree in Classical Philology and entering the faculty of a university Classics department.

      Graduation Date:

      May 2018