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Call for papers: Cicero across Genres

9th Celtic Conference in Classics, University College Dublin, June 22–25, 2016.


Caroline Bishop, Texas Tech University

Isabel Köster, College of the Holy Cross

The range of genres in which Cicero wrote is virtually unprecedented for an ancient author. Extant works include speeches, rhetorical treatises, works of philosophy, letters, and—at least in fragments—poetry. While some recent scholarship has challenged us to approach Cicero as a single author whose works were united by an overarching cultural program (see, for example, Catherine Steel’s Reading Cicero and many of the essays compiled in the Cambridge Companion to Cicero) there is still a tendency to treat each genre separately, resulting in fractured and isolated versions of Cicero. This panel aims to encourage conversation about breaking down the genre divisions that have long defined Ciceronian scholarship, providing a road map for uniting the various Ciceros.

In focusing on the currents that run through the diverse genres that Cicero wrote in, we take our cue from Volk’s and Williams’s Seeing Seneca Whole (2006). As in the case of Seneca the Younger, seeking out the common strands that unite Cicero’s works promises to open up new avenues of study for a major Latin author. To what extent, for example, does Cicero’s political quest for a consensio omnium bonorum (Har. 45) carry over to his philosophical works, where there appears to be a similar drive to search for common ground rather than differences between philosophical schools? Conversely, what insights can Cicero’s dilation on the problems of self-praise in the famous letter to Lucceius (Fam. 5.12) give us for reading the Pro Sestio and the De consulatu? Our goal is to show that Cicero provides us with an opportunity, perhaps paralleled only by Seneca, to address not only ancient perceptions about the conventions and proprieties of different genres, but also how our readings of an author change when we combine historical, literary, and philosophical perspectives.

This panel accordingly invites contributions that investigate Cicero by crossing genre boundaries. Papers may explore a single theme across two or more genres (for example, Cicero’s consulship, perspectives on Greek culture, the use of metaphors) or use a text from one genre to illuminate a text from another (for example, to what extent do Cicero’s letters from 44 concerning Antony reflect the invective of the Philippics?). We also welcome papers that examine the use of multiple genres within a single Ciceronian text.

The Celtic Conference provides panels with up to 15 hours of papers and discussion across three days. For this panel, we invite papers of 20-25 minutes in length, leaving 5-10 minutes for questions and discussion. Please submit abstracts of 300 words or fewer (excluding bibliography) to Caroline Bishop ( and Isabel Köster ( by Friday, December 11th. The languages of the Celtic Conference are English and French.

Preliminary information on the 9th Celtic Conference in Classics is available at the Dublin web site ( Further details of the conference, such as the cost of registration, will be available from the web site in due course.