Fashioning the Ideal Orator: Theatricality and Transgressive Aesthetics in the De oratore
This chapter moves from the instances of self-consciously cultural oratorical practice to Cicero's first major work of rhetorical theory, De oratore, which Cicero frames as an archaeology of his self. It discusses that Cicero uses the aristocratic status of his interlocutors in this dialogue to lend authority to the aestheticizing form of oratory that has characterized his career. It examines Cicero's articulation of a theatrical aesthetic of controlled transgression in which he negotiates the problem of how to evoke feminine grace while maintaining a properly masculine self. It explains that this theatrical aesthetic crystallizes on the human body, both in Cicero's discussion of delivery and in his investigation of figures of speech, where the body and its adornment are the governing metaphors.
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