Cicero was a master of the art of public orations. He knew his stuff and was good at it. During the power struggle between Catiline and himself, Cicero delivered several public speeches to the Senate and the whole city. He was trying to convince everyone that Catiline was a dangerous threat to their society and that whoever supported him was the lowest form of humanity. Another motive of his speeches, was to convince the Senate to execute certain traitors who were working for Catiline without a trial. Cicero knew that they were a danger to the regime and wanted them deposed of quickly. So, how important was Cicero’s rhetorical context in his orations?
First of all, rhetoric is a very important part of any persuasive speech. You need to be able to convince people of what you are saying, and rhetoric is a big part of that. If Cicero had taken all of his persuasive arguments out of his speeches, than he wouldn’t have a speech left! So, it was very important that Cicero use rhetoric in his orations, but he needed to know how to use it in such a way that his speech was believable. Did he do that?
A big part of Cicero’s speeches was the use of fear as a persuasive element. He knew that if he could make the people believe that Catiline was a dangerous enemy and a threat to their daily lives and activities, then he could have some control over them. He wanted to portray Catiline in as bad a light as possible, so as to have the people hate him. I would definitely say that fear was an important and very smart way to manipulate the people to get what he wanted. Catiline was a master with words which made him a persuasive politician.
Another big part of Cicero’s speech is the use of reputation as a persuasive element. He wanted to portray all of Catiline’s followers as the lowest of the low. Men who were of low-class and position. People of bad report; murderers, assassins and thieves. He wanted to make the people afraid to associate with Catiline because of who he was surrounded with. No one wants to be connected with those kinds of people. That was a smart move on Cicero’s part. This definitely was a smooth move toward success over his enemy and the support of the people.
In conclusion, Cicero’s rhetorical content in his speeches were essential for his success. He was very smart with what he said. The way he used reputation and fear to persuade the people over to his side showed intelligence and skill. There is certainly a lot that can be learned about rhetoric from reading Cicero’s orations. I must say that by what he said in his speeches, it was easy to believe what he was saying and think the way he wanted them to. It was only when I started analyzing his words in-depth and thinking about the other side of the story that I began to become more skeptical at what he was saying.