Political Conversations in Late Republican Rome

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Oxford University Press, Nov 5, 2021 - History - 290 pages
We are familiar with the notion that the Roman political world of the Late Republic included lofty speeches and sessions of the Senate, but also need to remember that another important aspect of Late-Republican politics revolved around senators talking among themselves, chatting off in thecorner. This book intends to analyse senatorial political conversations and illuminate the oral aspects of Roman politics. It argues that Roman senators and their entourages met in person to have conversations in which they discussed politics, circulated political information and negotiatedstrategies; this extra-institutional sphere had a relevant impact both on politics and institutions as well as determined how the Roman Republic functioned.Political Conversations in Ciceronian Rome offers a new perspective of Roman politics through the proxy of conversations and meetings. Orality has represented an important component in analysis of Roman institutions: oratory before the people in assemblies and contiones, addresses and discussions inthe Senate, speeches in the law courts. Orality was also crucial in rumours and public opinion. The present research posits that in Rome oral was the default mode of communication in politics, especially outside institutions. Only when they could not reach each other in person, Roman senators andtheir peers resorted to letters. It posits that the study of politics should not be restricted to the senatorial group, but that other persons should be considered as important actors with their own agency (albeit in different degrees), such as freedmen and elite women.


A wider definition of politics and political participation
Sources for political conversations in Late Republican Rome
Facetoface meetings
How to have conversations
Dynamics of conversations
Oral circulation of information
The role of nonsenatorial actors in conversations and meetings
The Senate from an extrainstitutional point of view
Prosopography of nonsenatorial actors
Index of People
Subject Index

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About the author (2021)

Cristina Rosillo-López, Associate Professor, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville Cristina Rosillo-López is Associate Professor at the Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Seville. She specializes in Late Republican political practices, institutions, corruption, public opinion, rhetoric, and the real estate market in Ancient Rome. Her previous books include Public Opinion in the Late Roman Republic (2017) and the edited volumes Communicating Public Opinion in the Roman Republic (2019), Managing Information in the Roman Economy (2021) and The Real Estate Market in the Roman World (forthcoming, with M. García Morcillo).

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