AskDefine | Define Philippic

Dictionary Definition

philippic n : a speech of violent denunciation [syn: tirade, broadside]

Extensive Definition

A philippic is a fiery, damning speech, or tirade, delivered to condemn a particular political actor. The term originates with Demosthenes, who delivered several attacks on Philip II of Macedon in the 4th century BC.
Cicero consciously modeled his own attacks on Mark Antony, in 44 BC and 43 BC, on Demosthenes's speeches, and if the correspondence between M. Brutus and Cicero is genuine [ad Brut. ii 3.4, ii 4.2], at least the fifth and seventh speeches were referred to as the Philippics in Cicero's time. They were also called the Antonian Orations by Aulus Gellius.
It is ironic that they were named after a series of speeches that failed to effectively warn the Greeks of the danger of Philip of Macedon whose son, Alexander the Great, went on to be one of the greatest conquerors of all time. After the death of Caesar, Cicero privately expressed his regret that the murderers of Caesar had not included Antony in their plot, and he bent his efforts to the discrediting of Antony. Cicero even promoted illegal action, such as legitimatizing Octavian's private army. In all, Cicero delivered 14 Phillipics in less than two years - an energetic feat for a former consul then in his 60s. Cicero's focus on Antony, however, would contribute to his downfall as he failed to recognize the threat of Octavian and encouraged unlawful acts. Cicero's attacks on Antony were neither forgiven nor forgotten, with the result that he was subsequently proscribed and killed in 43 BC. His head and hands were publicly displayed in the Roman Forum to discourage any who would oppose the new Triumvirate of Octavian, Mark Antony and Lepidus. Cicero's fate stands in marked contrast to that of Demosthenes, who suffered no punishment for his philippics. Philip and his son Alexander, as conquerors of Greece, could have inflicted severe punishment on Demosthenes if they had chosen to do so - but they were not that vindictive and never punished anyone for mere words.
According to Tacitus, the well-known Roman historian, this work, together with the Pro Milone, In Catilinam, and In Verrem, made Cicero's name, and much of his political career sprang from the effect of these works. Others would have it that the Pro Ligario, in which Cicero defends Ligarius before Caesar, was the vehicle of his renown.
Philippic in Bulgarian: Филипика
Philippic in Czech: Filipika
Philippic in German: Philippika
Philippic in French: Les Philippiques (Cicéron)
Philippic in Italian: Filippiche (Cicerone)
Philippic in Macedonian: Филипика
Philippic in Dutch: Filippica
Philippic in Polish: Filipika
Philippic in Portuguese: Filípicas
Philippic in Slovenian: Filipika
Philippic in Russian: Филиппика

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abuse, address, after-dinner speech, allocution, assailing, assault, attack, berating, bitter words, blackening, chalk talk, contumely, debate, declamation, diatribe, eulogy, execration, exhortation, filibuster, forensic, forensic address, formal speech, funeral oration, harangue, hard words, hortatory address, inaugural, inaugural address, invective, jawing, jeremiad, onslaught, oration, pep talk, peroration, pitch, prepared speech, prepared text, public speech, rating, reading, recital, recitation, revilement, sales talk, salutatory, salutatory address, say, screed, set speech, speech, speechification, speeching, talk, talkathon, tirade, tongue-lashing, valediction, valedictory, valedictory address, vilification, vituperation
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