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The rhetoric of gender in Cicero : oratorical hegemony and the manipulation of gender identity.

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My contention in this thesis is that gender identity in Ciceronian oratorical performance is a rhetorical tool that has two aspects: first, it enables Cicero as an orator to gain access to forensic space, and second, it facilitates the persuasion of his audience. The aim of this work is to discuss the concept of oratorical hegemony within a Ciceronian context; it is based on the idea that rhetoric functions in a political space essentially as a tool for governance regardless of the ideological leaning of the speaker or of the political or social body that he represents. The position taken in this thesis is that the rhetoric of a political orator such as Cicero is connected with a range of other factors that empower and lend versatility to his rhetorical position. Invariably, an orator such as Cicero has to manoeuvre within a wider context than what any particular speech situation might suggest on the surface. As a basis for examination, I have developed three models to create an appropriate framework for the discussions on oratorical hegemony. The first model, which I have termed the Anatomy of a Speech, shows only the stages of preparation and of the delivery of a speech. The second model, the Ciceronian Improvisatory Model, depicts the development of Cicero in his speeches during different periods of his public career. The third model, which I call the Phallic Model of Hegemonic Masculinity, is a sociological model constructed to accommodate the different structures of Roman Society. My deconstruction of the different sectors of the model form the core chapters in this thesis. Although this model has been informed by the close reading of social history that features in most discourses on gender, my discussion of the model implicitly challenges the view that women were universally and equally oppressed across races and cultures. My more important argument is that gender identity becomes not only a rhetorical tool in the hands of the orator but also a manipulative 'sign' within a social discourse. Although basic class and gender distinctions may be implicit in the orator's delivery. what matters more is his ability to deploy strategically the rhetorical means at his disposal. Issues relating to power, nationalism and the representation of men, women and slaves are discussed in connection with the orator's performance strategies in a political context. Because the Roman public forum is associated with competition and the young Roman male aspired to high honours and political attainments (laus et gloria) , power becomes a major issue in my discussion. The orator's quest for political and rhetorical glory entails challenging the best orators in the state and questioning the rationale behind the tendencies of some government administrators to abuse the rights of other members of civil society who are not as highly placed as they are in government. The orator progressively wields power through his performance of rhetoric, although when he is in the process of gaining national recognition for excellent speaking, he is apt to argue that his paramount concern is what is best for the state. Hard work in the oratorical arena often resulted in a high political profile for the orator, which occasionally led to the attainment of a powerful political position such as a consulship, a position achieved by Gieero himself in 63 BC. Cieero's ability to represent himself, contemporary events and his subjects imaginatively while delivering his speeches enabled him to persuade his audience on many occasions. Cicero's alternation between the spaces of senate and general assembly as consul and the kind of discourses that he develops in each space are important subjects of discussion in this thesis. Furthermore, Cicero's private persona is considered by examining his fears and anxieties to establish how much distance there is between his public self and private self. Within a cluster of personae, the stress to which Cicero is subjected opens him up to express in the oratorical arena certain fears that normally are meant for the private space in a Roman context. To complete my deconstruction of the Phallic Model of Hegemonic Masculinity, I have chosen to discuss Cicero's representation of slaves as a social manifestation of the bottom rung of the Roman world. Because discussions of oratorical hegemony in the Roman republic not only undertake to consider how it is used as a tool for governance but also its effect upon slaves, who represent the lowest stratum of the social order, this thesis examines Cicero's representation of the role, function and employment of slaves in respect to the power relations that existed between the dominant group and that particular subordinated group. In the final analysis, oratorical hegemony is not a paradigm for a specific orator. Oratorical hegemony functions among a group of orators who have gained political ascendancy through their performance of rhetoric. Cicero is not just a historical figure but he also represents a concept or form of oratorical hegemony. This thesis ultimately explains how Cicero selVes as a model for the exercise of this kind of oratorical practice.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, Durban, 2001.


Cicero, Marcus Tullius--Style., Cicero, Marcus Tullius--Language., Gender identity in literature., Theses--Classics.