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Incest In Roman Declamation

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with the treatment of incest in Roman controversiae. Roman controversiae- fictitious courtroom speeches-often served as a means to explore and finally confirm and adopt contemporary sociocultural norms. In this way they presented declaimers with extreme situations in which to think through the problems of citizenship, pietas and patria potestas. On the other hand, they offered the declaimers an opportunity to play with and sometimes challenge the limits of what was socially and morally acceptable. In order to do so, they frequently tackled taboo subjects. The most provocative declamations were those concerned with sexual issues-especially incest. However, before approaching these declamations, a brief preliminary outline of ancient views on incest must be provided. This will be supplied mainly by ancient myth and law and supplemented with information from historical and literary sources. The chapter then examines and assesses the relatively small group of declamations involving incest.

Keywords: incest; Roman declamation; Roman literature



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