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Cicero: Second Philippic

6. The Genre of Invective

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In this module, we think about the genre of invective, focusing in particular on the kinds of insults that a speaker might level at his opponent, and the extent to which these accusations were meant to be taken at face value.


In this course, Dr Andrew Sillett (University of Oxford) explores Cicero’s Second Philippic. We begin by outlining the historical background to the speech, starting with the assassination of Caesar on 15 March and ending with the dramatic date of Cicero’s speech: 19 September – focusing along the way on the figure of Mark Antony. After that, we think in more detail about the speech itself, focusing in particular on Cicero’s objectives in publishing such a damning criticism of Antony, before looking in more detail at the genre of invective more generally. Finally, in the seventh module, we think about the events in the year or so following the dramatic date of the speech. What changed, and to what extent could Cicero take the credit?


Andrew joined Brasenose in 2006 to study for his BA in Classics (Course IIA). Thanks to the generosity of the Helmore Fund, he was able to stay on for his MSt in Classical Languages & Literature. As a senior Germaine Scholar, he recently completed his DPhil on the early imperial reception of Cicero under the supervision of Llewelyn Morgan. His research interests include the reception of Cicero in the early imperial period, politics and thought in the late Roman Republic and early Principate.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Sillett, A. (2018, September 04). Cicero: Second Philippic - The Genre of Invective [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Sillett, A. "Cicero: Second Philippic – The Genre of Invective." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 04 Sep 2018,

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