Chapter

Feeding the <i>Plebs</i> with Words: The Significance of Senatorial Public Oratory in the Small World of Roman Politics

Martin Jehne

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/9780199641895.003.0004
Feeding the Plebs with Words: The Significance of Senatorial Public Oratory in the Small World of Roman Politics

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Audiences at contiones tended to listen to speakers rather than shout them down: why? Henrik Mouritsen tried to solve the problem with the ingenious assumption that the audience usually consisted of the speaker’s supporters, implying that the contional audience varied widely from meeting to meeting. A more stable audience can be explained if contiones from opposing speakers nonetheless offered benefits to the listeners. Analysis of Cicero’s speeches to the people, particularly de imperio Cn. Pompei, suggests that these benefits existed, and consisted not only in material return but, more importantly, in the exercise of deliberation, by citizens, on behalf of the welfare of the whole community.

Keywords: contio; oratory; Roman people; audience; Cicero; de imperio Cn. Pompei

Chapter.  7820 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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