Chapter

The nature and functions of historical exempla

Henriette van der Blom

in Cicero's Role Models

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199582938
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723124 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199582938.003.0007

Series: Oxford Classical Monographs

The nature and functions of historical exempla

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The variations in Cicero's use of historical exempla are enormous. This chapter deals with some of the major questions regarding Cicero's use of such exempla. How is a historical exemplum created? How does the orator (and others) choose among existing historical exempla in order to make a persuasive argument or find a suitable role model in life? How is a historical exemplum interpreted? What factors affect the impact of historical exempla? In assessing these questions, issues such as the historical knowledge of the audience, the nature of stock exempla, the authority of both exemplum and the user of exempla, and the impact of genre on the choice and employment of exempla are considered. The chapter also includes an analysis of references to exempla within families, or ‘family exempla’, in physical expressions such as buildings, coinage, and inscription, and in oratorical practice, set in the context of Roman senatorial culture and political competition.

Keywords: historical exempla; use of exempla; choice of exempla; authority; auctoritas; genre; family exempla

Chapter.  38063 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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