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Invective (from Middle English invectif, or Old French and Late Latin invectus) is abusive, reproachful, or venomous language used to express blame or censure; or, a form of rude expression or discourse intended to offend or hurt;[1][2][3]vituperation, or deeply seated ill will, vitriol.[clarification needed] The Latin adjective invectivus means 'scolding.'[]

The genre of invective

The "genre of invective" or "vituperatio" in Latin is a classical literary form used in Greek and Roman polemical verse as well as in prose. Its primary context is as rhetoric.

The genre of vituperatio belongs to the genus demonstrativum, which is composed of the elements of the praise and the blame.

During the Roman Republic, personal invectives and character assassination were widely used as part of both forensic speeches and orations. Cicero made frequent use of the invective form against political foes such as Clodius, Catilina (in the Catalinarian speeches) or Mark Antony (Philippics). Common charges included avarice, cupidity, cowardice, effeminacy, drunkenness, poor writing and speaking skills, luxury, disapproved sexual habits and tyrannical behaviour.

Between 44 BC and 30 BC, invective became a tool of the propaganda war between Octavian and Mark Antony.[4] Among other slanders, Mark Antony was accused of having married the foreign queen Cleopatra, of being her submissive subject and of having lost his Roman identity. Further, it was stated that Cleopatra was planning to invade Italy. This propaganda before the Battle of Actium in 31 BC allowed Octavian to present his campaign as a legitimate military campaign to defend the Roman Republic.

The preferred literary term for the later invective of the Renaissance is libel.

See also


  1. ^ "in·vec·tive." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2000, 2003 Houghton Mifflin Company.
  2. ^ "invective." Collins Essential English Dictionary, 2004, 2006. HarperCollins Publishers.
  3. ^ "invective." WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection.(sic) 2003-2008. Princeton University,, Farlex Inc. 13 May 2017 Note: This MLA format citation (which provided the most information regarding this unusual citation) was provided on the web page.
  4. ^ Borgies, Loïc (2016). Le conflit propagandiste entre Octavien et Marc Antoine. De l'usage politique de la uituperatio entre 44 et 30 a. C. n. Brussels: Latomus. ISBN 978-90-429-3459-7.

External links

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