In 55 B.C., Pompeius Magnus (then consul for the third time) and Helvius Mancia (an elderly man, not known to have held office at Rome) clashed in front in the censors concerning charges which Mancia was bringing against Lucius Libo. Mancia’s speech is preserved in Valerius Maximus’ Memorable Words and Deeds. This chapter investigates the surviving evidence for Mancia as an orator and the nature of his response to Pompey, arguing that the episode demonstrates the potential of informal oral exchanges to affect reputations and decisions. The fundamentally oral and public nature of Roman politics meant that men in public life were constantly reshaping themselves through speech; no-one, not even a man as eminent and powerful as Pompey, could insulate themselves from the possibility of public criticism if they failed to engage skilfully with Rome’s oratorical culture.
Keywords: oratory; Pompeius Magnus; Helvius Mancia; censors; informal public speech; public criticism
Chapter. 4436 words.
Subjects: Classical History
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