November 25th, 2016
GSI: Kuan Hwa. T: 6-7pm
The bad seed, Marcus Antony.
As if all the tribulations of Caius Caesar weren’t eradicated with his death, in The Second Oration Against Mark Antony, Marcus Tullius Cicero conjures all of the hardships the Roman Republic faced under Caesar’s borderline tyranny and channels it into the vessel, Mark Antony. In doing so, Cicero shows that Antony should be held in utter contempt by the Roman senate for causing the problems that Rome faced under Caesar. Cicero creates a sense of Antony being fully blameworthy for the crimes done against Rome by Caesar through the use of the metaphor, seeds, which analogize Antony with being an unstoppable and wicked natural force that drove Caesar’s crimes against Rome and the use of hyperbole, polysyndenton and parallelism which show that Antony is overwhelmingly the cause of Caesars wrongdoing.
Cicero use of the metaphor seeds show that Antony played the role of prime mover in causing the tragic war and deaths of Rome under Caesar to occur. To pin the blame of all the wars, infightings, financial and social problems etc. Rome faced upon a single scapegoat, Marcus Antony, and off of the recently most easily blamed popular and deceased subject, Caius Caesar, Cicero is required to make a strong argument that Antony is responsible for the crimes of Caesar. Cicero has no trouble or lack of eagerness in making the accusation that Marcus was responsible for Caesar’s crimes: “it was you, you, I say, O Marcus Antonius, who gave Caius Cæsar, desirous as he already was to throw everything into confusion, the principal pretext for waging war against his country.” But without a sufficient logos-explanation as to how Antony played a role in past crimes committed against Rome, Cicero instead operates off of the “unquestion[able]” assumption that Antony is to blame by ridiculing Antony’s nature to the point where Antony might as well be considered worthy of committing such heinous crimes against Rome as Caesar did simply because he is an unethical rotten person. Cicero is able to make it seem like Antony is blameworthy of Caesar’s crimes by metaphorically comparing Antony to seeds as essential causative agents of the warring process during Caesar’s rule which led to all of Rome’s ailments – “As, then, there is in seeds the cause which produces trees and plants, so of this most lamentable war you were the seed.” As seeds are naturally central to a beings makeup, Cicero comparing Antony to a seed serves to establish the basis with which the senate is to view Antony’s “drunken,” war-inducing and overall “wicked” qualities (that Cicero later talks extensively about) as being seeds of Antony and naturally central to the type of person that he is – “You must unquestionably allow, that the cause of that ruinous war existed in your person.” Because Cicero emphasizes Antony’s wicked nature through the metaphor seeds, the senate should find that Antony is worthy of blame and has natural proclivities towards wicked-doings. Cicero’s assault on Antony’s nature through the metaphor seeds thus serves to make Antony appear to be such a naturally deep-seeded bad person at his core that irrespective of sufficient explanation, Antony should probably be blamed for all things bad, and should be thought of to have played a direct and primary role in causing Caesar’s crimes and warring against Rome simply because Cicero accuses him of playing such a role – “As Helen was to the Trojans, so has that man (Antony) been to this republic—the cause of war, the cause of mischief, the cause of ruin.” The idea that Antony has natural proclivities towards evildoings and wrongdoings also furthers the narrative that Antony is to blame for all of the crimes committed against Rome by evoking the framework of nature. Nature is inescapable and unstoppable and by comparing Antony to seeds which emphasize that Antony’s natural inclinations dictate him, Cicero is evoking nature to depict Antony’s wicked tendencies and crimes against Rome as being a force that is unstoppably and inescapably a part of who Antony is. Like Newton’s second law of motion where for every force there is an accompanying force, while Antony is rendered a force unstoppably inclined towards wickedness and crimes against Rome, Antony should also be rendered inseparable from his blameworthiness and the senators should also be rendered incapable of seeing Antony as being not responsible and unattached from his crimes done against Rome merely because Antony is inescapably bad. This unstoppable/inescapable blame that is pinned upon Antony due to his wicked nature is, as Cicero states, further inescapably set in stone and remembered by the Roman people, “recorded in writings,” “handed down [for] men’s recollection,” “that our very latest posterity in the most distant ages will never forget this fact.”
To further establish that Antony is to blame for Rome’s past problems and Caesar’s crimes, Cicero gets away with using hyperbole, polysyndeton and parallelism to overstate how much Antony is to blame for Rome’s past grievances and to hold Antony to further disdain. Without breaking down each aspect and step of the war Antony had a hand in and thoroughly explaining logically how Antony was actually responsible for Ceasar’s crimes, Cicero appeals to the senate’s pathos through polysyndeton, parallelism and hyperbole to show that Antony is to blame for Ceasar’s crimes against Rome. Cicero riles the senate up through polysyndeton, recounting many sorrowful losses the war entailed by stringing them together to emphasize how overwhelming sorrowful the war was: “the senators were expelled from Italy, and with them Cnæus Pompeius… that all the men of consular rank… and the pretors, and men of pretorian rank… and a great part of the senate … and, in a word, the republic itself was driven out and expelled from its abode.” Cicero goes on to recount many more losses the roman republic faced to further aggravate the senate and direct the senate’s anger towards Antony through pathos and the use of parallelism, showing that Antony is to blame for all the crimes done against Rome during the war without providing sufficient explanation as to how Antony caused the war. Cicero recounts grief of the “armies of the Roman people”, “regret” of Rome’s “most illustrious citizens,” and the misfortunate loss of good “authority” during the war and implies that simply because he claims (without sufficient explanation) that Antony induced the war, “it is antonius who slew [the armies of the Roman people],” “It is Antonius, again, who has deprived [the senate] of [Romes most illustrious citizens],” and “it is Antonius, who has overthrown [good authority].” Thus, through parallelism, Cicero shows that for every problem Rome faced and the senators grieve, Antony is the parallel cause, thus, directing overly blame towards Antony. This leads into Cicero lastly using hyperbole to exaggerate/inflate the sense that Antony is to blame for Caesar’s wrongs against Rome. In saying that “the cause of that ruinous war existed in your person,” Cicero is attributing Antony as being the entire cause of Caesar’s wars which ravaged Rome. Such an overstatement of how much Antony is the cause and is consequently to blame for Caesar’s crimes against Rome is fully encapsulated by Cicero’s later accusations that “everything, since [the time of the war]… we shall, if we argue rightly, attribute wholly to Antonius” and that Antony is Rome’s Helen of Troy, “the cause of war, the cause of mischief, the cause of ruin.” Here, because the senators are likely to be riled up by Cicero’s recounting of Rome’s tragedies, they’re inclined to forgo reason when Cicero overly accuses Antony of being to blame and are more likely to excessively blame Antony as a scapegoat for Caesar’s crimes despite not having sufficient evidence that Antony is to blame for “everything.”
Cicero portrays Antony as being inescapably, unstoppably and exceedingly blameworthy for Caesar’s crimes against Rome through the use of the seed metaphor, polysyndenton, parallelism and hyperbole. Cicero’s seed metaphor which lays the groundwork for how Antony’s deep-seeded wicked nature and crimes against Rome are inseparable from himself and Cicero’s use of polysyndenton, parallelism and hyperbole show that Antony is extraordinarily to blame for Caesar’s crimes against Rome to the point where explanation is not even warranted. Throughout his pejorative and accusatory speech, all Cicero does is seek to emotionally rile the senate up and direct their anger towards an easy, blameworthy target using figurative language; Cicero has no need of literally explaining how Antony is to blame for the war in order for Antony to be blamed.