Thursday, January 06, 2022


What Can Be Said About an Individual

Christopher Craig, "Audience Expectations, Invective, and Proof," in Jonathan Powell and Jeremy Patterson, edd., Cicero the Advocate (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 187-213 (at 188):
The young Cicero, at Inv. 1.34–6, gives for arguments from character (ex persona) a set of topics that are so comprehensive that they embrace almost anything that one could say about a given individual.4

4 (1) nomen (name); (2) natura (nature, including, but not limited to: gender, ethnic group, country, kinship, age; physical appearance, strength and quickness, intelligence, memory; affability, modesty, patience and their opposites); (3) victus (manner of life, including upbringing, teachers, friends, occupation, financial management and home life); (4) fortuna (fortune, including status as slave or free, rich or poor, private citizen or officeholder, and if the latter, whether he acquired the position justly, is successful, is famous, or the opposites; what sort of children he has. If the target is dead, what was the manner of death? (5) habitus (habit); (6) affectio (emotional reactions), (7) studium (interest or devotion to a pursuit such as philosophy, poetry, geometry, or literature); (8) consilium (deliberate plan to do or not do something); (9–11) facta, casus, orationes (what he did, what happened to him, what he said, treated by Cicero as a group).
I'm sure that someone must have investigated these topics as components of ancient biography. I don't see any references to this passage in Friedrich Leo, Die griechisch-römische Biographie nach ihrer litterarischen Form (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1901), but Craig S. Keener, Christobiography: Memory, History, and the Reliability of the Gospels (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2019), somewhere (I have only a digital copy without page numbers) cites Cicero, On the Composition of Arguments 1.25.36, i.e. this passage.

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