Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jessica Restaino

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Mary English


The period between the Late Republic and Early Empire of Ancient Rome was a period of instability which involved civil wars and politicians vying for power. As a result, the literature of this period was changing as well. The two works I have chosen to examine are Cicero’s Second Philippic and Book I of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria or The Art of Love. The reason I have chosen these two is that they are on opposite spectrums in the period of transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. As one form of government was replacing the other, writing was becoming restricted, and this is seen by the way Cicero and Ovid attempted to voice out their concerns and were punished for it.

The thesis is mainly looked through a historical lens, because what was happening in Rome had a large impact on why Cicero and Ovid wrote. The Philippics were written in 44-43 B.C. after the assassination of Julius Caesar when Antony had taken control. Cicero was writing because he needed to justify why Antony was not a suitable leader, but in the end was punished for writing it, demonstrating that writing during this time was becoming more dangerous. During the Republic, the Romans were able to write what they wanted without being punished, but as Rome was shifting away from being a Republic, writers were not able to write freely anymore. By the time the Ars Amatoria was published in 1 B.C., there was even less freedom for writers because Augustus Caesar had taken sole control and writing against his ideals could lead to punishment. Ovid was thus exiled because the Ars discussed how to meet lovers during a time when the Augustan regime was attempting to control morality.

Another theoretical framework that is prominent is Bitzer’s “Rhetorical Situation.” Bitzer describes how rhetoric takes place because there is a situation that forces the writer to write. There are three main components to a rhetorical situation: the exigence, audience, and constraints. The exigence is the issue that needs to be overcome, and as both Cicero and Ovid were writing during a period of crisis, they had to address these issues in their writing. The audience is important because it is the audience that is able to make change. Cicero addresses the senators in hopes of them taking action against Marc Antony, and Ovid gives his readers an alternative to Augustan control. The constraints are the persons, objects, events, etc. that have an influence on why the writers write, and both were writing because of political leaders that were being unjust.

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