Roman republican history in imperial rhetorical exercises

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Abstract

Ancient historians of the classical period often operate with a major change in Roman society with the fall of the republican system of government and the advent of the monarchy under the emperors. With the change in political system, the republican past became a flexible means to further a number of agendas: political, social, religious, literary. An aspect where the use of the past was a tradition carried forward from the Republic and into the imperial period was the employment of historical exempla in oratory and rhetorical works, but it was a tradition which had to come to terms with the change in political system. This chapter analyses the ways in which figures from the Roman republican period were depicted and deployed in imperial rhetorical exercises. These written versions of oral exercises offer a substantial body of material of four major collections of declamations (as opposed to the very fragmentary record of written speeches) and a window into Roman culture. The discussion focuses on the employment of republican exempla and its reflection of imperial consciousness of the republican past.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistorical Consciousness and the Use of the Past in the Ancient World
EditorsJohn Baines, Samuel Chen, Henriette van der Blom, Tim Rood
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2019

Keywords

  • ancient history, ancient civilization, historiography, cultural memory, historical consciousness, collective memory, cultural heritage, myth, ritual, Roman historiography, Roman imperial rhetoric, Declamationes minores, Declamationes maiores