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Community and CommunicationOratory and Politics in Republican Rome$
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Catherine Steel and Henriette van der Blom

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199641895

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199641895.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.48) (p.49) 3 Feeding the Plebs with Words: The Significance of Senatorial Public Oratory in the Small World of Roman Politics
Source:
Community and Communication
Author(s):

Martin Jehne

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199641895.003.0004

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

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