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Rome as a Centre of Knowledge Fabrication? On Anecdotal Strategy in Cicero’s Philosophical and Rhetorical Writings

Subproject by Matthias Grandl

This subproject examines how Cicero uses anecdotes in order to impart philosophical and rhetorical knowledge. His dominating and eminent position as translator of Greek philosophy into Latin enables him to incorporate individual approaches and unconventional perspectives into the transmission of knowledge. In this context, a deliberately negative transfer of knowledge is to be deciphered, also by comparison with other sources. For it is precisely through the medium of the anecdote that Cicero manages to show his protagonists in a particular light by ascribing to them epistemic proficiency or, on the contrary, incompetence. As he himself is among the first to use the anecdote as a terminus technicus, the intriguing question arises which elements point the way from Cicero’s use to today’s understanding of the anecdote. Apart from a precise definition of the term necessary for this purpose, which will postulate the varied character of the Ciceronian anecdote, the project also intends to set up a genre-crossing overview of the anecdote in Cicero, always following the assumption of a triad of possibilities for knowledge transfer: information being passed on, held back or set in motion for the first time.