Conspiracy Narratives in Roman History

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University of Texas Press, Sep 26, 2013 - History - 207 pages
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Conspiracy is a thread that runs throughout the tapestry of Roman history. 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 government. To expose these dark corners and restore a sense of order and safety, Roman historians frequently wrote about famous conspiracies and about how their secret plots were detected and the perpetrators punished. These accounts reassured readers that the conspiracy was a rare exception that would not happen again—if everyone remained vigilant.

In this first book-length treatment of conspiracy in Roman history, Victoria Pagán examines the narrative strategies that five prominent historians used to disclose events that had been deliberately shrouded in secrecy and silence. She compares how Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus constructed their accounts of the betrayed Catilinarian, Bacchanalian, and Pisonian conspiracies. Her analysis reveals how a historical account of a secret event depends upon the transmittal of sensitive information from a private setting to the public sphere—and why women and slaves often proved to be ideal transmitters of secrets. Pagán then turns to Josephus's and Appian's accounts of the assassinations of Caligula and Julius Caesar to explore how the two historians maintained suspense throughout their narratives, despite readers' prior knowledge of the outcomes.

 

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Contents

SALLUST The Catilinarian Conspiracy
27
LIVY The Bacchanalian Affair
50
TACITUS The Pisonian Conspiracy
68
SUCCESSFUL CONSPIRACIES
91
JOSEPHUS The Assassination of Caligula
93
APPIAN The Assassination of Julius Caesar
109
CONCLUSION
123
ABBREVIATIONS
133
NOTES
135
BIBLIOGRAPHY
163
GENERAL INDEX
177
INDEX LOCORUM
188
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About the author (2013)

Victoria Emma Pagán is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Florida.

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