Chapter

Friends, Romans, Countrymen: Addressing the Roman People and the Rhetoric of Inclusion

Karl-J. Hölkeskamp

in Community and Communication

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199641895
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746130 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199641895.003.0002
Friends, Romans, Countrymen: Addressing the Roman People and the Rhetoric of Inclusion

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This chapter explores communication between the Roman elite and the people and, in particular, the ways in which the elite tried to convey a sense of shared community and aims when it addressed the people at contiones. A particular sort of rhetoric, the ‘rhetoric of emphatic direct address’, is omnipresent: the Roman people are addressed as part of, and partner in, an “imagined community” of the Quirites sharing a common universe of ‘Romanness’. The contio invariably, explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly, aims at the rhetorical construction of a consensus – just as the contio as a ‘place’ represents the performative side of this process. The contio as discourse is based on, and indeed largely consists in, the construction or negotiation, recreation or affirmation of Roman identity or identities, of the exclusiveness of being a Roman, the rôles and privileges, demands and burdens involved in being a true Roman citizen.

Keywords: contio; oratory; rhetoric; Roman people; Roman identity; imagined communities; Roman citizens

Chapter.  9254 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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