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The imperial context of Gellius’ authority

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Chapter Summary

This chapter throws some light on the way Gellius views his own useful role as an authority in relation to someone who will benefit from his literary output. Although Gellius appears extremely careful to avoid mentioning any direct connection between himself as a writer and his ruler, a closer investigation of his allusive strategies allows us to tease out an imperial dimension in his literary communication. The chapter presupposes two levels of literary communication in Noctes Atticae. First, Gellius is writing for the members of the Roman elite, offering them Noctes Atticae as a cultural-educational programme that participates in an ideological process of maintaining and reinforcing social cohesion and cultural identity; Second, the authorial voice in Noctes Atticae reveals awareness of the highest authority in matters of judging intellectuals and their knowledge, an awareness which points to emperor as an ideal reader, without excluding the possibility of a wider readership.

Keywords: Aulus Gellius; authority; cultural-educational programme; imperial dimension; literary communication; Noctes Atticae; Roman elite



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