It is often stressed that the spectacles and rituals of Roman public life – including those surrounding popular assemblies – fostered the prestige of individual nobles and senators, of their families, and of the nobility and the senate as a whole. This is no doubt true, but there was another side to this coin. In a competitive culture obsessed with honour and dignity, the prospect of dishonour and indignity, inflicted by failing in the fierce aristocratic competition, or by incurring some public slight, had to be constantly on people’s minds. One man’s victory in the never-endingcompetition inevitably meant another man’s loss. This happened most directly at the polls, when honores were conferred (on some, and by the same token denied to others) by the Roman people. In a contio, a Roman “oligarch” had many opportunities for ostentation and self-glorification – but was also exposed to the danger of public loss of face and humiliation. This aspect of Roman public life is well attested in the sources. The life and career of a Roman senator should be conceived as dedicated not solely to the pursuit of honour, but also to the avoidance of dishonor.
|Original language||American English|
|Title of host publication||Institutions and Ideology in Republican Rome|
|Subtitle of host publication||Speech, Audience and Decision|
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Number of pages||20|
|State||Published - 1 Jan 2018|
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2018.