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Reading Republican OratoryReconstructions, Contexts, Receptions$
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Christa Gray, Andrea Balbo, Richard M. A. Marshall, and Catherine E. W. Steel

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198788201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198788201.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 October 2021

I Said, He Said

I Said, He Said

Fragments of Informal Conversations and the Grey Zones of Public Speech in the Late Roman Republic

(p.247) 14 I Said, He Said
Reading Republican Oratory

Cristina Rosillo-López

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses Republican fragments of informal conversations. Elite informal conversations (frequently defined as sermo by the sources) were an everyday event in politics. Informal exchanges framed the way in which political deals were made, opinions were tentatively questioned, news circulated, and Roman senators looked for information. They constituted part of public speech and of political communication, although just at their limits and in a grey zone. There were no parties in Rome, and no stable political agreements either, but short-term alliances. Therefore, senators had to be constantly looking for new allies. In this context, informal conversations were crucial. This necessity of contacts was based on socialization, which provided the opportunity for meetings that allowed time to discuss politics. Therefore, the analysis of fragments of informal conversations illuminates the use of rhetoric in unofficial settings and moments, but also exposes how such informal meetings defined late Republican politics.

Keywords:   public speech, late Roman Republic, Roman politics, informal conversations, circulation of information

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