Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Mors Honestissima: Cicero and Suicide Contemplation in the Late Republic
by Smith, William P., III, Ph.D., University of Florida, 2015, 160; 10646448
Abstract (Summary)

My thesis examines Cicero’s contemplations of suicide, particularly in situations when Roman society would expect men of status to end their lives. I argue Cicero employs blame and self-fashioning in order to restore his reputation and manhood after failing to die honorably. Although my thesis considers arguments Cicero makes in his speeches and philosophical works, it primarily focuses on his letters to friends and family. Cicero’s correspondence provides the rare autobiographical account of a Roman during republican times contemplating suicide and the ramifications of clinging to life.

By analyzing Cicero’s epistolary discussions of suicide in more depth, this study hopes to answer questions unaddressed or insufficiently covered by prior scholarship about suicide in the late republic. What roles did timing and location play in determining how Romans would view a suicide? At what point had too much time passed for a suicide to be considered honorable? What situations called for dignified Romans to kill themselves and what would be the repercussions for a man failing to do so? Most importantly, by examining an individual who failed to die honorably on multiple occasions, this study will determine what steps a disgraced Roman male could take to reclaim his status and his manhood in lieu of suicide.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rea, Jennifer
School: University of Florida
Department: Classical Studies
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Classical studies
Keywords: Cicero, Classics, Suicide
Publication Number: 10646448
ISBN: 978-0-355-19700-6
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