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The Hand of Cicero [Hardcover]

Shane Butler
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 22 2002 0415251494 978-0415251495 1
Hundreds perished in Rome's Second Proscription, but one victim is remembered above all others. Cicero stands out, however, not only because of his fame, but also because his murder included a unique addition to the customary decapitation. For his corpse was deprived not only of its head, but also of its right hand. Plutarch tells us why Mark Antony wanted the hand that wrote the Philippics. But how did it come to pass that Rome's greatest orator could be so hated for the speeches he had written?
Charting a course through Cicero's celebrated career, Shane Butler examines two principal relationships between speech and writing in Roman oratory: the use of documentary evidence by orators and the 'publication' of both delivered and undelivered speeches. He presents this fascinating theory that the success of Rome's greatest orator depended as much on writing as speaking; he also argues against the conventional wisdom that Rome was an 'oral society', in which writing was rare and served only practical, secondary purposes.

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Review

'[An] engaging and readable book ... I thoroughly recommend this as a refreshing look at Cicero and his society.' - JACT Review

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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant work, tremendous pleasure. Jan. 15 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Fascinating in every respect, The Hand of Cicero uses the life and career of Rome's most famous orator in order to illuminate the centrality of writing and documentation to the ancient Latin world, long thought to be an almost exclusively oral culture. The book is elegantly written and persuasively argued. But in its extended meditations on Cicero's life, it is also utterly engrossing, as all great stories are. This is the best book that I have read about Cicero or about ancient rhetoric, aesthetics, and law in the last five years. I recommend it with unstinting enthusiasm to academic and non-academic readers alike.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Shane Butler's The Hand of Cicero Nov. 12 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Though the writing is clear and lucid, his overall argument lacks clarity. The theories presented are interesting, but often a bit of a reach. The detailed nature of his accounts, though at times is fascinating, it can elsewhere contribute to the soporific tone of the book. However, it is evident that the author has a great deal of affinity for his subject, which contributes to an enthusiastic basis for the book, but cannot justify the obvious biases that he let seep into his writing.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant work, tremendous pleasure. Jan. 15 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Fascinating in every respect, The Hand of Cicero uses the life and career of Rome's most famous orator in order to illuminate the centrality of writing and documentation to the ancient Latin world, long thought to be an almost exclusively oral culture. The book is elegantly written and persuasively argued. But in its extended meditations on Cicero's life, it is also utterly engrossing, as all great stories are. This is the best book that I have read about Cicero or about ancient rhetoric, aesthetics, and law in the last five years. I recommend it with unstinting enthusiasm to academic and non-academic readers alike.
4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shane Butler's The Hand of Cicero Nov. 12 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Though the writing is clear and lucid, his overall argument lacks clarity. The theories presented are interesting, but often a bit of a reach. The detailed nature of his accounts, though at times is fascinating, it can elsewhere contribute to the soporific tone of the book. However, it is evident that the author has a great deal of affinity for his subject, which contributes to an enthusiastic basis for the book, but cannot justify the obvious biases that he let seep into his writing.
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