Christopher P. Craig, Form as Argument in Cicero's Speeches. A Study of Dilemma. American Philological Association: American Classical Studies No. 31. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993. Pp. xii + 254. ISBN 1-55540-878-8. US$19.95.
C. E. Chandler
University of Cape Town
|'And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.' (Mt. 21.24-26; cf. Mk. 11.27- 33, Lk. 20.1-8).|
This is probably one of the more famous instances of the dilemma argument -- a formalised presentational argument codified in Greek and Roman rhetorical theory -- and the subject of Craig's study. C. defines dilemma as ' . . . the offering to the opponent (not necessarily in direct address) of two choices such that he must choose one or the other, and either choice hurts him' (p. 25). It is discussed by Cicero and the Rhetorica ad Herennium in several places, and goes by a variety of names: complexio (de Inv. 1.44-45), comprehensio (de Inv. 1.79, 83-84), duplex conclusio (Rh. Her. 2.38), and divisio (Rh. Her. 4.52). C. refers to it by the term 'dilemma' for convenience. The present work grew out of C.'s earlier briefer examinations of the dilemma strategy in selected Ciceronian speeches. The target audience for his book is deliberately broad: it will obviously be of great interest to students of Cicero and Latin oratory, and C. ' . . . envision[s] a primary audience of classicists' (p. x); but it should also attract scholars of the history of rhetoric in general. In fact, C. seems to locate himself within the latter group when he states in the Introduction ' . . . the real interest for us _as students of persuasion_ is the way in which the orator uses these elements (sc. the loci of ancient rhetorical theory) creatively to attain a specific goal' (my underlining [p. 5]). The fact that an English translation accompanies all Latin passages quoted by C. and that a glossary of rhetorical and legal terms (predominantly Latin ones) is appended (pp. 235-238) are evidence for the more universal intention of this book. In addition, C. provides detailed commentary on the social, historical, and judicial context and issues of each Ciceronian speech he analyses, so that even a reader with a hazy apprehension of the circumstances surrounding the occasion of each speech or of Roman judicial practice (and let's be honest, even some Classicists are not very secure in their knowledge of the latter) need not be prevented from comprehending C.'s examination.
C. is at pains to be as transparent as possible regarding his aims and methodologies, and says a good deal about both in his Preface (pp. ix-xii) and Introduction (= Chapter 1, pp. 1-26). C. sees his work as a logical extension of current trends in the study of Ciceronian persuasion (p. 8), as exemplified by scholars like Classen, Neumeister, Stroh, and May, who have concentrated on the argumentative strategy of a speech in terms of the unique situation of each speech (p. 3). C. has elected to study dilemma, as opposed to some other argumentative form, e.g. inductio, because it is easy to identify, unambiguous, relatively common, and would have been recognised by educated Romans (p. 8).
C. proceeds to examine the employment of dilemma arguments in seven Ciceronian speeches, each speech receiving a separate chapter: Pro Roscio Amerino (Chapter 2, pp. 33-45), Divinatio in Caecilium (Chapter 3, pp. 47-66), Pro Roscio Comoedo (Chapter 4, pp. 67-88), Pro Sulla (Chapter 5, pp. 89-103), Pro Caelio (Chapter 6, pp. 104-123), Pro Plancio (Chapter 7, pp. 124-145), and the Second Philippic (Chapter 8, pp. 146-168). C. justifies his choice of these particular orations by asserting that they offer a wealth of argumentative forms, are intrinsically interesting, and reflect different periods from Cicero's oratorical career (p. 5). Some chapters are expansions of work that C. has published elsewhere.(1)
In each chapter, C. identifies the argumenative strategy that is peculiar to the speech and examines the role played by dilemma forms within that argument. The work is designed in such a way that a reader could peruse the Introduction and Chapter 9 'Some Generalisations' (pp. 169-179) and still quite easily gain an overview of Cicero's employment of dilemma forms. Having done this, the reader could confine his reading to the chapter(s) on the specific oration(s) that interest him. As C. demonstrates, a complete grasp of Cicero's method in using dilemma is only possible by a close analysis of the dilemmas as they function within the text since each example is only meaningful in its individual context, and so it would not be possible, or necessary, to repeat that degree of detail in a review of this kind. Consequently, I shall restrict myself to a few of what I perceive to be the salient points.
In Chapter 2, C. asserts that in Pro Roscio Amerino we see Cicero at the beginning of his career capitalising upon the presentational aspect of the dilemma form as a symbol of memorable and irrefutable argument. By means of the dilemma form, weak argument acquires a semblance of irrefutability, a recurrent feature of Cicero's use of this form (p. 41). There follows an Appendix (pp. 44-45) which offers a brief critique (based on Kinsey) of the view of Heinze and Stroh that the prosecution actually wanted an acquittal.(2)
C. argues in Chapter 3 that dilemma is particularly prominent in the Divinatio in Caecilium. In this speech, Cicero presents himself in a dilemma: he does not want to disappoint the Sicilians but, at the same time, is unwilling to prosecute, since he regards himself as a defence orator (section 4). This argument enables Cicero to give the impression that he is not an eager accuser but rather a victim of his own sense of duty (p. 53). Simultaneously, it prepares the way for his strategy of insinuating that his rival cannot prosecute without self- incrimination, a strategy that is underscored by a dilemma (pp. 58-59): Si obicies, idne alteri crimini dabis quod eodem tempore in eadem provincia tu ipse fecisti? . . . Sin praetermittes, qualis erit tua ista accusatio . . ? (section 31). In section 45 Cicero actually states that Hortensius will use the dilemma form against Caecilius. C. suggests that Cicero's own manipulation of dilemma in this speech is designed to show the praetor and his consilium that Cicero will be competent to cope with Hortensius' tactics, while Caecilius will be inept (p. 60). Hence dilemma is of fundamental importance in this speech.
Pro Roscio Comoedo (Chapter 4) is difficult to assess because it is incomplete. On the issue of the pactio between Fannius and Roscius in Pro Rosc. Com. 26, C. devises his own ingenious (and admittedly speculative) compromise (pp. 70-71) between the traditional interpretation and that which Stroh proposed.(3) C. suggests that the aforementioned pactio refers to an agreement that Fannius will not pursue Roscius with an action that could disgrace him but that this is an informal agreement; in return, Fannius will receive HS 100 000 in the arbitral settlement. C. believes that Stroh is correct in observing that Cicero is denying the existence of a formal pactio in sections 1-13 and 26, but that Cicero's trick lies in the fact that the formal pactio denied is itself the orator's own invention. Regarding the question as to why Cicero is so fond of forced dilemma in this speech, C. suggests that it might be to give the impression of rigour in order to counteract the comic tone of the entire oration (p. 88).
Chapter 5 shows that dilemma forms, while plentiful in Pro Sulla, are not integral to that speech's persuasive strategy in a unitary sense, but serve to defend Cicero against ethical attacks upon him which are intended to undermine his reliability as a witness for his client (p. 103).
In discussing the Pro Caelio (Chapter 6) C. offers another compromise, this time between the interpretation of Stroh, who argues that the love-affair between Caelius and Clodia is a fiction, and Heinze who believes that it did indeed take place.(4) In C.'s view, the affair between Caelius and Clodia did indeed take place, but the jury can be divided into two basic groups: those who were fairly well-informed about the affair, and those who either had heard a different version of it or had no knowledge of it at all. Cicero's entire argument hinges on the jury's acceptance of his version of Caelius' relationship with Clodia (pp. 109-110). Most of the dilemmas employed in this speech serve to undermine the reliability of a witness, and are thus ethical in their assumptions or conclusions (p. 120). As in Pro Roscio Comoedo, the dilemmas also function as an antidote to the comic nature of the oration as a whole (p. 121).
In Pro Plancio (Chapter 7), we observe Cicero employing dilemmas that contribute to individual lines of argument, and others that are essential for the broader argumentative strategy of the oration. Hence the mechanical uses are as diverse as the parts of the argument are disparate, while others enable the orator to focus ethical argument upon himself (pp. 143-145).
Chapter 8 deals with the Second Philippic, which boasts nine dilemma forms as opposed to the mere six found in all the other Orationes Philippicae combined. C. can find no unitary solution for the prevalence of dilemma in this speech, but discovers that every use of the device either asserts or amplifies at least one of the invective loci of Antony's stupidity, drunkenness, thievery cowardice, or impiety (p. 167). C. suggests that Cicero's use of dilemma is deliberately ostentatious, a strategy that leaves the 'audience' in no doubt that they are listening to a highly trained and competent speaker (p. 168).
In Chapter 9 C. offers a convenient typology of Ciceronian use of dilemma. In individual arguments it is employed most often to lend an illusion of rigour and to distract the audience from the weak assumptions of the argument. It may also dismiss valid assumptions, establish convenient yet insubstantial assumptions, lend variety to a barrage of refutation, and help to integrate ethical argument into the larger argumentative structure. Dilemma may also serve to demarcate sections of an argument within a speech, to create resonances derived from repetition, to direct an ethical attack on an opponent, or, when aimed at Cicero himself, to give the orator licence for behaviour his audience would normally find unacceptable.
The book is completed with an appendix on dilemma forms in Cicero's orations (pp. 181-209), an index of citations of dilemma forms in Cicero's orations (pp. 211- 212), a second appendix on the syntax and function of these forms (pp. 213-217), a full bibliography (pp. 219- 234), and an index of names (pp. 239-243) and passages cited (pp. 245-254).
I believe that C. has succeeded in producing a work which will appeal to students of ancient oratory and of rhetoric in general. It has the advantage of clarity and accessibility, and may be used as a source of reference or enjoyed for its discursive properties. Once I had read the book, I derived great enjoyment from identifying dilemma forms in the questions put to ministers during televised 'question and answer sessions'.
(1) Chapter 3 was preceded by 'Dilemma in Cicero's Divinatio in Caecilium', AJP 106 (1985) 442- 446, Chapter 6 by 'Reason, resonance, and dilemma in Cicero's speech for Caelius', Rhetorica 7 (1989) 313-328, and Chapter 7 by 'Cicero's strategy of embarrassment in the speech for Plancius', AJP 111 (1990) 75-81.
(2) R. Heinze, 'Ciceros politische Anfa:nge', in E. Burck (ed.), Vom Geist des Ro:mertums (Darmstadt, 1960) 87-140 at 99-100; W. Stroh, Taxis und Taktik (Stuttgart, 1975) 61-66; T.E. Kinsey, 'A problem in Pro Roscio Amerino', Eranos 79 (1981) 149-150.
(3) W. Stroh, Taxis und Taktik (Stuttgart 1975) 112-127.
(4) W. Stroh, Taxis und Taktik (Stuttgart 1975) 269-273; R. Heinze, 'Ciceros Rede Pro Caelio', Hermes 60 (1925) 193-258 at 228, 245-248. R.G. Austin's view of Pro Caelio 30, line 9 (Oxford 1960) 86, is termed 'apparently sensible', but dismissed in a footnote (p. 109, n. 10).