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Tutorial Latin: Cicero's Consulship - Intertextual and Intergeneric Self-Fashioning


Admission requirements

This course is open to Master students and Research Master students in Classics and Ancient Civilizations.


Cicero’s consular year was the heyday of his political career, and he did everything to make this fact known to everyone. In this tutorial we will try to read as much of the literary production surrounding the year 63, starting with the Commentariolum petitionis of Cicero’s brother Quintus, via the fragmentar speech In toga candida, until the speeches of the consular year. But we will also read selected letters, later reflections on the consular year from speeches and philosophical writings, and even a bit of Ciceo’s poetry. Time permitting, the last two sessions will be dedicated to ancient recption of Cicero’s consulship (Sallust, Plutarch, Velleius etc.).

The course has two aims at least: we want to discover in detail the strategies Cicero used to turn his consulship into a memorable moment of Roman history; and we want to understand how these strategies differ via the genres he uses (speeches, letters, poetry) – in this second point, we closely follow ideas that have been brought up by Caroline Bishop and Isabel Köster who recently organized a conference on ‘Cicero across the genres’.

All participants will have to be willing to read a lot during the course – partly in translation, partly in Latin.They will (hopefully) be rewarded with a deep insight into the functioning of political discourse in the late Roman republic.
Every participant will be responsible for one text/group of texts and will present his own research on this during the course. There will, however, also be seminar sessions in which we will read and discuss texts and concepts together.

The maximum number of participants is 12.

Course objectives

  • Broadening knowledge of Roman republican history;

  • Broadening insight into interaction between literature and politics and between writing and self-presentation;

  • Broadening ability for comparative historical and literary analytical tools by in depth analysis of one the best documented years of Roman history;

  • Understanding generic rulkes and play in Rome through intergeneric comparisons;

  • Understanding the working of intertextuality within the work of (mainly) one author;

  • Broadening presentation and writing skills.


The timetable is available on the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

  • Tutorial (and partly seminar).

Course Load

Total course load: 10 × 28 hours= 280 hours:

  • Lectures: 24 hours;

  • Preparation tutorials: 12 × 6 hours = 72 hours;

  • Preparation of presentation: 40 hours;

  • Preparation of reaction to preparation of another participant: 44 hours;

  • Preparation and writing of paper: 100 hours.

Assessment method

  • Paper;

  • Oral presentation (with handout);

  • Respons.

Research MA students will additionally write a proposal for a (fictitious) conference.


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average: paper 50%, presentation: 30%, respons 20%.
For Research MA students, the mark for the proposal will be 1/5 of the mark of the paper.


An unsufficient mark for the respons will be kept; the other two parts must be sufficient (at least 5.5). In case of unsufficent results, both the paper and the presentation wil have to be re-done.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Distribution of handouts etc.

  • Communication wit participants.

Reading list

The texts to be read in class will be made available in a reader. The translations of all other texts can be found in the Loeb Classical Library online.

General books on the topic will be made available on a special shelf in the Library when the class starts. Every student should read the relevant chapters of a biography of Cicero at her/his own choice, e.g. the recent ones by Stroh (in the series C.H. Beck Wissen: short, but excellent), Narducci (Cicerone. La parola e la politica), Tempest (Cicero, Politics and Persuasion in Ancient Rome).

Altenatively, also the slightly older, but still excellent one in two volumes by Mitchell (Cicero, The Ascending Years; Cicero, The Senior Statesman) is recommended. Seminal is still Gelzer (Cicero, ein biographischer Versuch) – a must read for anyone who has further plans with Cicero in his academic career.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • The maximum number of participants is 12 (in order to make the turorial form work).

  • Every participant is required to know the historical background of Cicero’s political carreer between 70 and 60 BC approximately. She/he should read a biography of Cicero at his/her own choice for this period in advance.


Dhr. Dr. C.H. (Christoph) Pieper