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|Title:||Reinterpretations of the Struggle of the Orders: Re-working Historical Memory|
|Keywords:||Classics;Roman History;Roman Historiography;Roman Literature;Struggle of the Orders;Cicero;Livy;Dionysius of Halicarnassus;Piso Frugi|
|Abstract:||This is a study of how late Republican and early Imperial authors recast different elements of episodes from the Struggle of the Orders (509-287 BCE) based on the events and circumstances of their own times and their authorial aims. The study is divided into two parts. Part I focuses on portrayals of Sp. Cassius’ third consulship in 486 BCE, when he sought to pass a lex agraria. Part II examines the treatments of Sp. Maelius’ private frumentary distributions, which purportedly occurred in 439 BCE. Both episodes seem to have been treated briefly by earlier sources; the main thread of the stories centred around Cassius’ and Maelius’ desire to acquire regnum, which led to their suppressions and deaths. Over time, the stories evolved and became more detailed. Elements were exaggerated, added, or omitted, which often spoke to what was happening during the time at which a certain author was writing. By means of a comparison of the primary sources I examine the contemporary Roman historical realities contained within our surviving narratives on the patricio-plebeian conflicts of the early period. Late Republican authors frequently recast the patrician-plebeian struggle in the context of the recent political conflicts between optimates and populares, using the political idiom of their own times to describe the Struggle of the Orders. Cassius and Maelius became embedded in the political controversy surrounding the suppression of men (reportedly) seeking kingship by the state that began with the institution of the SCU and continued long into the first century BCE. I analyze the changes that take place in the accounts of Cicero, Livy, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, our main sources on the episodes involving Cassius and Maelius. Different authors reinterpret, emphasize, and omit various elements of the events of 486 and 439 BCE. A single author might, as is the case with Cicero, reimagine the episodes differently at different times based on his immediate aims. While the ways by which the sources reimagine elements of these episodes has led to harsh criticisms of these authors, especially Livy and Dionysius, I argue that our sources were engaging with the material at their disposal and shaping it in ways that were acceptable to ancient audiences. This historical interpretation helped the Romans to make sense of their own past and derive meaning from it, which, in turn, helped them to engage with and make sense of their present.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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