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. The Latin adjective invectivus means 'scolding.'

The genre of invective

The "genre of invective" or "invective (genre)" or "vituperatio" in Latin is a form of classical libel used in Greek and Roman polemical verse as well as in prose, but its primary context is rhetoric.

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

During the Roman Republic, personal invectives and character assassination were widely used during the forensic speeches as well as orations. Cicero made a large use of the invectives against his political foes such as Clodius, Catilina (Catilinarian speeches) or Mark Antony (Philippics). The commonly charges are avarice, cupidity, cowardice, effeminacy, drunkenness, low writing and speaking skills, luxury, disapproved sexual habits, tyrannical behaviour, etc.

Between 44 BC and 30 BC, the invective became a tool during the propaganda war between Octavian and Mark Antony[4]. Among many other slanders, Mark Antony was accused to have married the foreign queen Cleopatra, to be the submissive subject of her and to have lost his Roman identity. According to this propaganda, Cleopatra would plan to invade Italia. This propaganda before the battle of Actium in 31 BC permits to Octavian to present his campaign as a legitimate war for the safe of the Roman Republic.

The preferred literary term for 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.
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