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Despite – and sometimes because of – the elite authorship of our literary sources, the dēmos and populus loom large across genres in all periods of Greek and Roman antiquity. Whether with apprehension or admiration, ancient historians recognized the people as a powerful political force: Thucydides, for example, praises Pericles for having led, and not having been led by, the “crowd,” while Livy offers a more positive view of the people, casting the secessio plebis as a check on patrician abuses. Meanwhile, oratory not only represents an important source of information on daily life, including that of non-elites, but can also offer a unique opportunity to observe elite speakers attempting to win the support of popular audiences. Similarly, the question of how broad a cross-section of the populace was in the audience for performances of Greek and Roman drama has been an important issue of scholarly debate. For instance, the interpretation of slave characters in Roman comedy – whether they represent figures to be laughed at or with and by whom – has hinged on different reconstructions of the social status of audience members and authors/performers.
LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA, USA)
ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Adam Gross; Rebecca Frank
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