Harold C. Gotoff, Cicero's Caesarian Speeches: A Stylistic Commentary. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1993. Pp. ? + 260. ISBN 0-8078-2075-1. US$15.35.
Margaret A. Fusco
Harold C. Gotoff's latest contribution is a new text and commentary on the somewhat neglected Caesarianae and a valuable addition to every Latinist's shelves. His strict philological focus will especially benefit those whom he calls 'emerging Latinists.' G.'s approach will be familiar to readers of his earlier and equally useful work, Cicero's Elegant Style: An Analysis of the Pro Archia (Urbana 1979).
G. argues for the value of close philological reading in an age of less text-based literary criticism, noting that Cicero's art cannot be understood without a solid grasp of both Latin syntax and the conventions of classical rhetoric. He addresses the components of style and their effects in a readable and straightforward manner, clearly explaining his methodology and its aims. As his introduction, notes, and bibliography reveal, this is a strongly didactic commentary primarily concerned with the formal foundations of grammar, syntax, figures of speech, and figures of thought; readers will find no recommendations of the theoretical approaches prevalent elsewhere, since, to paraphrase the author, the only true literary critics are the grammarians and the commentators.
The author's discussion of the complex and slowly developing relationship between Caesar and Cicero in each of the Caesarianae in turn amply serves to provide students with and remind scholars of the contexts of these remarkable speeches. The text of each speech, with partial apparatus criticus, is followed by a line-by-line and highly detailed analysis of Ciceronian style, through which Gotoff hopes to illuminate the psychology of the relationship between 'Rome's master [and] Rome's master-orator' (p. xi). A glossary of over one hundred technical terms ensures that the less experienced reader will not be lost in the explanations themselves. The first index lists all passages cited for comparison; and the second includes proper names, some Latin words, and major points of grammar, syntax, and style.
G. indicates that he purposefully distributed discussion of rhetorical and stylistic issues throughout the three commentaries, lest that of the Pro Marcello be disproportionately long and lists of cross references stupefy those 'emerging Latinists.' As a result, this is not a book into which one can wholly satisfactorily dip and taste at will; rather the book is rigorously constructed to direct the reader working through the speeches as a set. This would work excellently in an advanced seminar, where as students progress, they would be faced with some necessary repetition as well as with an influx of new points of linguistics, stylistics, and Roman rhetorical and legal convention.
Constraints of space preclude full consideration of the text and notes here, although a few examples will suffice. Analyzing Pro Marcello 10 (Te vero quem praesentem intuemur, cuius mentem sensusque et os cernimus, ut, quicquid belli fortuna reliquum rei publicae fecerit, id esse salvum velis, quibus laudibus efferemus, quibus studiis prosequemur, qua benevolentia complectemur?), G. explains the inadequacy of the emendation of Faernus (eos for et os):
|'Editors bothered by a lack of an antecedent to the question accept the emendation eos with the ut clause characterizing. But os has special prominence because -que links the first two (hendiadys for "bent-of-mind" vs. the visible os). And of all the objects of scrutiny made possible by Caesar's presence, it is most readable.' (pp. 37-8)|
Likewise, he retains the manuscript reading oppugnari . . . tollere at Pro Ligario 14 (Quanto hoc durius, quod nos domi petimus, id a te in foro oppugnari et in tali miseria multorum perfugium misericordiae tollere?), noting:
|'Editors cannot abide the inconcinnity. I have not found a parallel in Cicero; but that does not mean one does not exist or that Cicero could not have written it as it appears. Concinnity is not an overriding principle of Ciceronian style.' (p. 139)|
The notes, although predominantly concerned with syntax, also discuss some legal terms, such as aditus and postulatio (p. 143) and provide sound if sketchy treatment of such quintessentially Roman notions as amicitia (p. 266), clementia (p. 15), animus and ingenium (p. 178), all of which will be helpful to student readers. At their best, the notes combine syntactic analysis with some explanation of the construction's significance to Cicero's arguments, as in one explanation of the use of the subjunctive in a discussion on clementia:
|'. . . [T]he present tense of the subjunctive in the cum clauses makes it clear that the potential for such pressure [for vengeance rather than clementia] still exists. But Cicero suggests that because of Caesar's policy the potential will not be realized. . . . Quintilian (8.3.85) cites this passage as an example of vox suppressa because Cicero does not explicitly acknowledge that proponents of vengeance in fact exist among Caesar's men.' (p. 140)|
Some notes dealing with rather obvious matters, for example, the ablative of description (p. 147), the definition of denique (p. 125), the aspect of the imperfect (p. 156), will be glossed over by all but the most inexperienced readers. At times, abstract questions, about which the author is unwilling to speculate, are raised: 'The reader may ask why Cicero chose this moment for the further revelation of his intimacy.' (p. 151) A tantalizing question, but clearly outside the range of syntactic explanation. Professor Gotoff's diagramming of the movement of the Ciceronian period seems redundant, given his thorough narrative analyses of complex parallels and chiasmus, although, again, less experienced readers may welcome it.
Cicero's Caesarian Speeches is a handsomely produced and affordable edition that will be especially welcomed by students and teachers of Latin for the clear ways in which it guides those who, experienced or not, are interested in learning to look on a very close level at the technical components of Ciceronian aesthetics. Yet Professor Gotoff's acknowledged aim of focusing on 'the psychological relationship between the orator of the Caesarianae and their singular audience' as well as his desire 'to [look] past the traditional subjects of Ciceronian studies and [examine] the orations as dramatic performances' (p. xi) would have been better served by more developed discussions of each speech as a whole and by the mention, at least in the bibliography, of some of the more innovative approaches critics have recently taken to Cicero and Latin prose. This book admirably does what it sets out to do: to direct a close, philological reading of three important texts.