Abstract In this essay I discuss Cicero's practice of submitting his texts to others for comment, arguing that the mutual reading and correction of friends' works played an important social function. By discussing what would make a text better, Cicero and his collaborators worked to forge and maintain social ties. In addition, I pursue an important corollary: for a text to provoke this activity, it must present itself as unfinished or in progress. Cicero was aware of this corollary, and in the Brutus he used images of textual incompletion to critique Atticist and Caesarian theories of style as solitary, antisocial, and implicitly autocratic. This led him to formulate an important new literary politics, which he put into practice in the years after Pompey's defeat in the civil war.

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