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Cicero 'Haruspex'


Political Prognostication and the Viscera of a Deceased Body Politic


This monograph explores Marcus Tullius Cicero's awareness and interpretation of contemporary political events as reflected in his private correspondence during the last years of both the Roman republic and his own life. Cicero's correspondence gives a detailed view of current political events in Rome and constitutes, together with Caesar's writings, our major contemporary evidence for the circumstances of the civil war of 49 BC. The theoretical input of Cicero's predecessors, their perceptions of constitutional development (in particular of Roman politics) as well as Cicero's perception of their political theories are scrutinized to determine the extent of Cicero's awareness of a larger pattern of political events.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-59333-094-1
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Aug 21,2013
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 264
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-59333-094-1
$149.00

This monograph explores Marcus Tullius Cicero's awareness and interpretation of contemporary political events as reflected in his private correspondence during the last years of both the Roman republic and his own life. Cicero's correspondence gives a detailed view of current political events in Rome and constitutes, together with Caesar's writings, our major contemporary evidence for the circumstances of the civil war of 49 BC.

Cicero's Haruspex takes as leitmotiv Cicero's own judgment of the state as 'sacrificial victim' to the ambitions of individual politicians, using as metaphor his examination of a 'deceased' body politic in the manner of a haruspex inspecting the entrails of a sacrificial animal. It raises the question as to whether Cicero understood the message of political decline signaled by the 'entrails' of the 'carcass' of the res publica, and whether this ability enabled him to anticipate future political development in Rome.

The theoretical input of Cicero's predecessors, their perceptions of constitutional development (in particular of Roman politics) as well as Cicero's perception of their political theories are scrutinized to determine the extent of Cicero's awareness of a larger pattern of political events. Furthermore, this study investigates how consistent Cicero was in his analyses of such patterns, so as to determine to what extent he may be taken seriously as a political observer.


Dr. Maridien Schneider has a BA with Honours in modern history from Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Her MA thesis dealt with Cicero's rhetorical use of historical exempla and the place of the conventions of historiography as literary genre within rhetoric. In this book, a reworking of her Stellenbosch doctoral dissertation, the author once again turns a conventional approach on its head by taking issue with the frequently-held view that Cicero was in his final years a naive political has-been who did not really understand what was happening around him.

This monograph explores Marcus Tullius Cicero's awareness and interpretation of contemporary political events as reflected in his private correspondence during the last years of both the Roman republic and his own life. Cicero's correspondence gives a detailed view of current political events in Rome and constitutes, together with Caesar's writings, our major contemporary evidence for the circumstances of the civil war of 49 BC.

Cicero's Haruspex takes as leitmotiv Cicero's own judgment of the state as 'sacrificial victim' to the ambitions of individual politicians, using as metaphor his examination of a 'deceased' body politic in the manner of a haruspex inspecting the entrails of a sacrificial animal. It raises the question as to whether Cicero understood the message of political decline signaled by the 'entrails' of the 'carcass' of the res publica, and whether this ability enabled him to anticipate future political development in Rome.

The theoretical input of Cicero's predecessors, their perceptions of constitutional development (in particular of Roman politics) as well as Cicero's perception of their political theories are scrutinized to determine the extent of Cicero's awareness of a larger pattern of political events. Furthermore, this study investigates how consistent Cicero was in his analyses of such patterns, so as to determine to what extent he may be taken seriously as a political observer.


Dr. Maridien Schneider has a BA with Honours in modern history from Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Her MA thesis dealt with Cicero's rhetorical use of historical exempla and the place of the conventions of historiography as literary genre within rhetoric. In this book, a reworking of her Stellenbosch doctoral dissertation, the author once again turns a conventional approach on its head by taking issue with the frequently-held view that Cicero was in his final years a naive political has-been who did not really understand what was happening around him.

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Contributor

Maridien Schneider

  • Acknowledgements (page 5)
  • Prospectus (page 7)
  • Preface (page 11)
  • I. Origines (page 13)
    • 1. Introduction (page 15)
      • 1.1 Exordium (page 15)
      • 1.2 Titulum (page 21)
      • 1.3 Dispositio (page 26)
    • 2. Overview of Scholarship (page 29)
      • 2.1 General and Biographical Studies (page 29)
      • 2.2 Cicero as Political Philosopher (page 33)
      • 2.3 Practical Politics (page 36)
      • 2.4 Key Concepts (page 38)
      • 2.5 Cicero's Views on Tyrannicide (page 39)
      • 2.6 Manner and Style (page 39)
      • 2.7 On the Correspondence (page 41)
    • 3. Historical Overview (page 43)
    • 4. The Evidence (page 49)
      • 4.1 Cicero as Primary Sources (page 49)
      • 4.2 Caesar's Commentarii vs Cicero's Correspondence (page 52)
    • 5. Philosophy and Politics (page 57)
      • 5.1 Roman Exposure to Philosophy in the Second and First Centuries BC (page 57)
      • 5.2 Cicero's Philosophical Background (page 60)
      • 5.3 Cicero's Affiliation with the Sceptical New Academy (page 62)
    • 6. The Roman Concept of Decline (page 71)
      • 6.1 Polybius and the Cyclic Pattern of Constitutional Change and Decline (page 71)
      • 6.2 The Roman Conscept of Decline, Discord and Refoundation (page 79)
    • 7. Theory and Practice vs Practice and Theory (page 85)
      • 7.1 Rulers vs Philosophers: The Greek Ideal of the Ruler as Benefactor (page 86)
      • 7.2 Roman Adaptaion: Description, No Prescription (page 88)
      • 7.3 Cicero's Attempt at a Compromise (page 91)
  • II. Mediis In Rebus (page 95)
    • 8. Cicero's Period of Governorship in Cilicia (page 97)
      • 8.1 Caelius, Cicero and Milo: 'Homines Magni' 52 BC (page 97)
      • 8.2 Political Acumen of Caelius (page 103)
      • 8.3 'Meri Terrores Caesarini': The Vision Sharpens (page 113)
    • 9. Close Encounters (page 117)
      • 9.1 'Ille Noster Amicus': Cicero's Appraisal of Pompeius (page 117)
      • 9.2 Caesar's Ascendancy (page 138)
        • 9.2.1 'Voces tristificas' (page 138)
        • 9.2.2 'Hanc tristitiam temporum' (page 145)
    • 10. And so the End Draws Near (page 163)
      • 10.1 Cicero's Philosophical Works: The Negotium of a Statesman (page 163)
      • 10.2 Cicero: Igitur, Coniectura prospiciens (page 168)
  • III. Exitus (page 183)
    • 11. 'Non Multo, Inquam, Secus Possum Vaticinari' (page 185)
    • 12. Conspectus (page 205)
    • 13. Epilogue (page 217)
  • Bibliography (page 223)
  • Index Rerum (page 245)
  • Index Locorum (page 255)
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