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Conclusion: Constructing cultural and political continuity

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Chapter Summary

Gellius conception of authority turns out to be closely intertwined with hierarchy. Like authority, hierarchy does not manifest itself as an unshakable status quo in Noctes Atticae, but as an object of continuous scrutiny and debate. Exposing the instability of the charismatic authority and the unreliability of the political behaviour of these Hellenic star-intellectuals, Gellius implicitly advertises the stable and reliable written authority embodied by his Noctes Atticae. An illuminating commentary on Gellius political satire, which helps to bring out his underlying strategies of fashioning and consolidating a lasting position as cultural-educational authority in an imperial context, is provided by the chapters that immediately follow two chapters on Herodes Atticus. The implicit message in those chapters illustrate how the notion of cultural continuity embraced by Gellius literary project also entails a notion of political continuity, while it establishes Gellius own crucial role in securing both forms of continuity.

Keywords: Aulus Gellius; cultural continuity; cultural-educational authority; Herodes Atticus; imperial context; Noctes Atticae; political continuity



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