Philippic

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A philippic is a fiery, damning speech, or tirade, delivered to condemn a particular political actor.

Origin of the term[edit]

The term originated with Demosthenes, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens who delivered several attacks on Philip II of Macedon in the 4th century BC.

Its use in Rome[edit]

Marcus Tullius Cicero consciously modeled his own condemnations of Mark Antony on Demosthenes's speeches, and if the correspondence between Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger and Cicero is genuine [ad Brut. ii 3.4, ii 4.2], at least the fifth and seventh speeches were referred to as the Philippics in Cicero's time.[citation needed] They were also called the Antonian Orations by Latin author and grammarian Aulus Gellius.

After the death of Caesar, Cicero privately expressed his regret that the murderers of Caesar had not included Antony in their plot, and he bent his efforts to the discrediting of Antony. Cicero even promoted illegal action, such as legitimatizing the private army of Gaius Octavius, or Octavian. In all, Cicero delivered fourteen Phillipics in less than two years. Cicero's focus on Antony, however, contributed to his downfall as he failed to recognize the threat of Octavian to his republican ideal.

Cicero's attacks on Antony were neither forgiven nor forgotten, with the result that he was proscribed and killed in 43 BC. His head and hands were publicly displayed in the Roman Forum to discourage any who would oppose the new Triumvirate of Octavian, Mark Antony and Lepidus.

According to Roman historian Tacitus, this work, together with the Pro Milone, In Catilinam, and In Verrem, made Cicero famous, and much of his political career sprang from the effect of these works. Others[who?] would have it that the Pro Ligario, in which Cicero defends Ligarius before Caesar, was the vehicle of his renown.

See also[edit]