Chapter

Speech, Competition, and Collaboration: Tribunician Politics and the Development of Popular Ideology

Amy Russell

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/9780199641895.003.0007
Speech, Competition, and Collaboration: Tribunician Politics and the Development of Popular Ideology

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This chapter considers the day-to-day pattern of tribunician rhetoric: the tribunes’ tasks, their speeches, the content of these speeches, and the audience reaction to these speeches. Through an analysis of known tribunes and their contiones in the period 121-81 bc, this paper argues that the overarching motive for any tribune addressing the people was to carve out for himself his own contional personality. These men demonstrate that there were multiple stances available and that choice of identity was temporary and often dictated by the need to differentiate oneself from opponents. Tribunician orators were engaged in political competition with one another, probably each in his own contiones and each moment of disagreement demanded a small choice from listeners, or potential listeners who decided whose contiones to attend. Each new position taken up expanded the boundaries of acceptable discourse, if only slightly.

Keywords: contio; oratory; tribunes; identity; popular choice; political competition

Chapter.  7314 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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