Cicero, Rhetorica ad Herennium

LCL 403: viii-ix

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time on, as a work by Ciceroa gave it a prestige which it enjoyed for over a thousand years. Because of its position in the MSS. following De Inventione it was in the twelfth century called Rhetorica Secunda; perhaps because of a belief that Cicero wrote the treatise to replace his juvenile De Inventione, it was later called Rhetorica Nova.b But Cicero never refers to any work of his which might be identified with our treatise; the disparaging reference in De Oratore 1. 2. 5 to those “crude and incomplete” essays of his youth is obviously to the two books De Inventione. The picture we draw of our author does not fit the early Cicero, and his doctrines in many crucial instances, as will be seen later are in sharp contrast with those of De Inventione. Furthermore, the thought and style of the work are unworthy of the mature Cicero. Finally Quintilianc (who often cites De Inventione),d



and similarly Gellius,a Marius Victorinus, Servius, and Cassiodorus show no acquaintance with any Ciceronian work of this nature. Although the belief in Ciceronian authorship has still not entirely disappeared, all the recent editors agree that the attribution is erroneous.

The first to doubt that the treatise was worthy of Ciceronian authorship was Lorenzo Valla (middle saec. xv). Then Raphael Regius in 1491 positively divorced the work from Cicero’s name. The question of authorship has occupied the attention of scholars at intervals ever since, but has never been settled to the satisfaction of all. It is wisest, I believe, to ascribe the work to an unknown author, although a good many reputable scholars have made out a case, at first glance attractive, for assigning it to a rhetorician named Cornificius.b These rely on citations in Quintilian which correspond with passages in Book 4 of our treatise. Cornificius is mentioned, and always with disapproval, in the following places:

In 5.10. 2 Quintilian, discussing arguments, criticizes Cornificius for calling a Conclusion from Incompatibles contrarium; contrarium appears in our treatise as a figure (of diction).

In 9. 2. 27 Quintilian tells us that oratio libera—which he would allow to be called a figure only if it is