First Philippic Against Marcus

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In Cicero’s, “First Philippic against Marcus Antonius,” he is offering his view on the political situation after the death of Caesar. His purpose for coming before the Senate is to drive them to the realization that Marcus Antonius and his actions are slowly breaking down the unity of the country. He praises Marcus Antonius for his fine speech, intentions, and promises, then points out the fallacies and unconstitutionality of Marcus Antonius’ actions. He reminds the Senators that “Nothing was done any longer through the Senate…” because measures were being passed without declaration or consent. The Senate and Caesar’s advisors are Cicero’s audience even though the end of the speech is directed towards Marcus Antonius and Dolabella who are not present. Cicero describes his motives of leaving and coming back, Rome’s problems, the need for Caesar’s laws, and the contingency of some of Marcus Antonius’ laws, making the reader think that he is trying to sway the Senate into rebelling against Marcus Antonius yet at the same time he praises and congratulates the good deeds done by him. Even at the end, he addresses Marcus Antonius who is not even present, acclaiming and chastising. Why does he do this? Cicero makes a valiant, determined attempt to convince the Senate to join powers with him against Marcus Antonius yet at the same time, does he have doubts or fears about speaking against Antonius otherwise why would he be so propitious in his approach?

Cicero starts the speech with a direct address towards the Senators. This establishes who his audience is. Throughout the speech his tone is one of persuasion. His first goal, in giving this speech, is to persuade the Senators that his view and opinions are legitimate by proving his credibility. He shows his concern for justice by stressing what he has done to serve the country and giving a testimony of devotion. “I made no journeys…I did all that was within my power to lay the foundations of peace. I reminded members of the ancient precedent created by the Athenians making use of my oration…and I moved that every memory of our internal discords should be effaced in everlasting oblivion.” He assures the Senate that he is a dedicated consul and Senator with only good intentions. He establishes his credibility.

In the next section of the speech, Cicero commends Antonius on handling the issues of the country well, since he did invite political leaders to attend a consultation session on the nation situation at his home, and for answering questions directly. “Were any exiles recalled? One…Were any tax-exemptions granted? None.” At this point, the Senate can agree with Cicero’s contentment because Marcus Antonius has done many admirable deeds. But after this remark, Cicero’s tone changes. “So determined was his action that I am amazed by the contrast between that day and all the others which have followed.” He points out the days when Marcus Antonius deeds were just and great and then there is a sudden transformation, a dramatic mood or tone change.

Cicero continues to confirm his credibility because his speech cannot be effective without the Senate being convinced that he has only good intentions at heart. He states the circumstances that prompted his departure. He explains that “Nothing was any longer done through the Senate, many significant measure were passed through the Assembly of the people…without even consulting the Assembly, and against its wishes. The consuls elect declared they did not dare come into the Senate at all. The liberators…were excluded from the very city which they had rescued from servitude…” Cicero felt that “it was less disagreeable to learn of these things that to see them…” so he left. He could not stand to see this happen so he...
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