Seneca the Elder’s collection of declamatory excerpts is typically read as a self-indulgent work of slavish subordination to the Roman moralistic critique of rhetoric. What is missing from this account of Seneca as a pessimistic moralizer, however, is an appreciation of the literary form in which his endlessly excerpted literary anecdotes are couched. In the Controuersiae and Suasoriae, Seneca has assembled excerpts from the declamations of the most acclaimed practitioners of his generation arranged by theme and interspersed with his own judgments and observations addressed to his sons. The author’s pronouncements are embedded in a sophisticated narrative structure in which Seneca alternates between expressing his own opinions and reporting, sometimes in direct speech, the views of others. This sophisticated alternation of voices should caution us against accepting the conventional reading of Seneca the Elder as a disillusioned critic of declamation embarking reluctantly on a history of the genre. As a provincial from Spain, Seneca was an outsider and new arrival onto Rome’s literary scene. I will suggest that his appropriation of the conventional Roman persona of the moralist is a strategy of self-promotion and goes hand in hand with a more subtle cultural agenda.
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starting at 14:00 c.t.
The Workshop will discuss Prof. Peirano's most recently published article "Between Biography and Commentary: The Ancient Horizon of Expectation of VSD" (accompanied by selected texts with a focus on the Suetonian De poetis). All readings will be made available by registration.
13.07.2018 | 10:00 c.t.
Sitzungsraum der SFB-Villa, Schwendenerstraße 8, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem