Mass Oratory and Political Power in the Late Roman Republic

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This book highlights the role played by public, political discourse in shaping the distribution of power between Senate and People in the Late Roman Republic. Against the background of the debate between 'oligarchical' and 'democratic' interpretations of Republican politics, Robert Morstein-Marx emphasizes the perpetual negotiation and reproduction of political power through mass communication. The book analyses the ideology of Republican mass oratory and situates its rhetoric fully within the institutional and historical context of the public meetings (contiones) in which these speeches were heard. Examples of contional orations, drawn chiefly from Cicero and Sallust, are subjected to an analysis that is influenced by contemporary political theory and empirical studies of public opinion and the media, rooted in a detailed examination of key events and institutional structures, and illuminated by a vivid sense of the urban space in which the contio was set.