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Writing Imperial Politics: The Social and Political Background

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Chapter Summary

This chapter considers one of the aspects of Roman antiquity and especially to come to terms with some of the obstacles faced in fully understanding the nature of free expression in ancient Rome. The discussion includes the attendant "suppression" of libertas and difficulties presented by notion of "censorship". The chapter includes surveys of some of the general problems that arise in sources and that render problematic our understanding of this phenomenon. It is structured around different types of expression that the sources indicate had varying degrees of limitations imposed upon them. The first is the ability of members of elite to speak within senate or in a related political context. The second is the written productions of senatorial elite, specifically history and biography. It then examines derision and abuse and discusses the cultural and political dynamics that limited such expression between and among various social groups and within various contexts.

Keywords: censorship; free expression; libertas; political dynamics; Roman antiquity; senatorial elite; social groups



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