Conspiracy Narratives in Roman History by Victoria Emma Pagán

By Victoria Emma Pagán

Conspiracy is a thread that runs during the tapestry of Roman background. From the earliest days of the Republic to the waning of the Empire, conspiracies and intrigues created shadow worlds that undermined the openness of Rome's representational govt. to show those darkish corners and fix a feeling of order and protection, Roman historians usually wrote approximately well-known conspiracies and approximately how their mystery plots have been detected and the perpetrators punished. those debts reassured readers that the conspiracy was once a unprecedented exception that might now not take place again--if everybody remained vigilant. during this first book-length remedy of conspiracy in Roman heritage, Victoria Pagan examines the narrative concepts that 5 famous historians used to reveal occasions that were intentionally shrouded in secrecy and silence. She compares how Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus built their money owed of the betrayed Catilinarian, Bacchanalian, and Pisonian conspiracies. Her research finds how a ancient account of a mystery occasion is dependent upon the transmittal of delicate info from a personal environment to the general public sphere--and why ladies and slaves usually proved to be perfect transmitters of secrets and techniques. Pagan then turns to Josephus's and Appian's debts of the assassinations of Caligula and Julius Caesar to discover how the 2 historians maintained suspense all through their narratives, regardless of readers' previous wisdom of the results.

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2–4). 7; cf. 1). Three times he professes to relate events to the best of his ability. 2). 6). By the end of the work, however, we come to realize with Sallust that this degree of veracity is only as high as the historian’s ability (ingenium) permits. Rhetorical devices that stand outside the narrative range from these closely engaged first-person statements, spoken by the author himself, to statements framed in the third person, without any named subject. Information is imparted without the interference of the author’s own voice.

With his army, Catiline was defeated by the legate Marcus Petreius in January near Pistoria. In the end, it is a marvel that a man who accomplished so very little continues to baffle us as much as he fascinated the historian who first attempted to understand him, Sallust. 31 betrayed conspiracies continuity ‘‘and other things of this sort’’ A historiographical narrative of a conspiracy eventually must come to terms with the secrecy that pervades the events. Sallust, however, cannot simply interrupt his narrative with a self-imposed lacuna when silence overshadows the progression of causes and effects.

6), and especially those of noble birth. Of all the participants in the conspiracy, however, the most elusive is Crassus. Evidence of his participation is admittedly flimsy and rests on the belief of unnamed contemporaries. So this catalogue of conspirators begins with assured specifics and ends in hesitation and doubt. It would be naïve to think that Sallust always invoked unnamed spokesmen because he was unable to give more reliable testimony. Rather, in a manner common in ancient historiography, the technique allowed the historian to criticize his sources without naming them.

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