chapter  1
29 Pages

Performing Friendship in Cicero’s De amicitia

WithR. Jacob McDonie

Chapter 1addresses Cicero’s De amicitia (44 BC), the foundational text for medieval friendship. The ethical influence of De amicitia upon medieval authors is evident, but medieval readers also encountered a text that was rhetorical and grounded in performative practices, characteristics of De amicitia that seem not to be noticed by modern scholars at all, receding, as they do, behind philosophical and political readings of the text. But despite claims that Cicero was known mostly as a philosopher to the Middle Ages, he is, I argue, just as much a rhetorician in the period, often through “philosophical” works like De amicitia. Chapter 1 argues that the practices of Ciceronian oratory—the orator’s adopting an ethos of authority, buttressing his performance through recourse to nature, activating a discourse of the self, sympathetically identifying with clients and the jury, performing on a stage, engaging memory, and dramatically recalling narrative events before the eyes of an audience (enargeia)—are, in fact, the same practices of friendship in De amicitia, a convergence of amity and rhetoric not lost on medieval authors.