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13. Violence in the Palace: Rituals of Imperial Punishment in Prokopios’s Secret History

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines Prokopios's uses of punishment in the SH. In fact, the author of SH appears to be obsessed with violence and punishment. By adopting Foucault's treatment of punishment as ritual, the author uses the terms "ritual" and "ritualization" to describe the following: punishment in the examined work, the discourse employed by the narrator, and lastly the narrative, its sequence and shape. Ritualized narration communicates meanings through an economic, precise, standardized, repetitive, and detail-oriented discourse. Ritualized narrative is the story that it becomes a ritual through its repetitive structure, and in so doing it reflects the ritualistic character both of the punishments it depicts, and of the narrator's act. In the SH, Prokopios behaves often as an unreliable narrator. He gives inconsistent and contradictory information not only when he talks about punishment, but also when he refers to his protagonists' characters and sexual lives.

Keywords: Foucault's treatment; imperial punishment; Prokopios; ritualized narration



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