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Exploring Bodily and Spatial Rhetoric in the De Opificio Dei of Lactantius

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In the construction of spatiality, “partitioning” (as Foucault would have it), or the formation of the “enclosure,” allows not only for the production of an object of knowledge, but prompted by the regulative procedures of a social order, also invests spaces with an almost inherent valorisation. The relations of power active in the production of demarcated space, not only allows for the disciplined production of knowledge within the boundaries of the enclosure, but it also enacts the principle of hierarchy, rendering some parts of more value than others, evoking reasons for boundaries, evaluating types of movement and mobility, thereby reproducing social order. How a version of an interior body was embedded within a rhetoric of spatiality in antiquity is the objective of this essay. The point of departure is not a pre-discursive interior body upon which a rhetoric of spatiality has been inscribed, but an already rhetorically constructed object of knowledge in interaction with a rhetoric of spatiality. Besides exploring the interaction of bodily and spatial rhetoric with reference to specific prominent issues in the Dei Opificio Dei of Lactantius, the question whether a version of Roman masculinity tropologically functions as proposal for the construction of social order is also posed.

Affiliations: 1: University of South Africa


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