A Reading of Greek Myth in Cicero’s Speeches. The Case of Medea
The article is an attempt to broaden the scope of and fill some gaps in the study of Greek myth in Cicero’s Speeches, which as such lacks a proper academic inquiry to date. A method based upon the so-called ‘law of metamorphosis’, as coined by Ernst Cassirer, is suggested at the outset. Then the myth of Medea, selected as the only example due to limitations of space, is presented as it was received by the Romans in the time of the Late Republic. The main section offers an interpretation of her appearances in the speeches Pro Lege Manilia and Pro Caelio.
Greek myth as employed by Cicero, and especially in his Speeches, has not been submitted to any complex study and is only superficially examined in secondary literature devoted to other more general subjects. A few papers deal with the mythology in his writings, but these have focused almost exclusively on his philosophical works (Canter 1936, Steiner 1968, Thompson 1980). Scholars who study the use of exemplum, on the other hand, are more concerned with its historical as opposed to mythological form (e.g. Schoenberger 1910, David 1980, Robinson 1986, Oppermann 2000). Nevertheless, it has been postulated more than once that a proper analysis of how and why Cicero occupies himself with myth would be a rewarding enterprise (Steiner 1968: 198f, Price 1975: 215. cf. Kirk 1985: 108f, Laird 2006: 15). The present paper aims at suggesting a methodology for such an attempt and, subsequently, testing its...
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