Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Performing Cicero

This is an interesting website where you can view three different reenactments of Cicero's famous defense of Marcus Caelius. I particularly enjoyed version 1 since the New Zealand actor seemed to resemble Cicero more and was more flamboyant. Based on reading the actual speech in the internet archives and remembering its portrayal in one of my favorite books by Steven Saylor, "The Venus Throw", I couldn't help but enjoy the New Zealand version more.

"Impersonation, known by the general terms fictio personae in Latin and prosopopoeia in Greek, was a way to vary and animate a speech by summoning a figure to speak the orator's sentiments in his (or her or its) own voice (cf. Quint. Inst. 9.2.29-35). The device brought the orator's style of performance ever closer to the actor's and encouraged a certain grandeur of manner and style. Among the most famous prosopopoeiae in Roman oratory is a passage from Cicero's speech in defense of Marcus Caelius where the advocate, having already cast Caelius' jilted lover Clodia as the evil genius behind the prosecution, summons her distinguished ancestor Appius Claudius Caecus to shame and scold her for her conduct."
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