The construction of the orator in the early Imperial period (31 BC-AD 138)
This thesis explores the construction of the orator and oratory in Roman Imperial Literature and Social History and engages with theoretical works on gender definition to ask the questlon 'What does it mean to be an oratOr in the hundred and fifty years after Cicero's death'. Chapter 1 considers the declamations on and around Cicero's death, and how they are used to construct the figure of Cicero in the first century AD. Chapter 2 examines how Tacitus' Dialogus can be read as a series of declamations which allow the participants and audience of the Dialogus to continue to re-examine the nature of oratory and its place in Roman society. Chapter 3 focuses on the relation of forensic oratory, declamation, and rhetorical theory. It shows how 'school exercises' put rhetOrical theory into practice and are a practical preparation for being an orator. Chapter 4 examines oratory and declamation in the Prefaces to Controversiae of the Elder Seneca. It shows that Seneca is not as pessimistic as he has been read and re-evaluates the criticism of declamation in Books 3 and 9: what has been taken as a successful assault on the practice is shown instead to derive from the speakers' inability to declaim well. Chapter 5 focuses on Tacitus' views on orators by examining the use of the term orator in the Annals and the role of performance in defining an orator. Chapter 6 looks at Petronius Satyricon, particularly Trimalchio' s reading of the zodiac-dish as a hitherto unnoticed allusion to the Platonic criticism of rhetOric, which can be seen to run through the various passages where oratOry or declamation are discussed. Chapter 7 explores QuintiIian's discussion of the orator as the embodiment of the vir bonus and its implications for our reading of the ethics of rhetoric in Quintilian. The chapter considers Book 12 of the Institutio as a whole, to show that it deals with the orator's career in an inherently Roman and practical way. The Conclusion addresses the perceived pessimism of the sources regarding the present state of rhetoric and its future. Instead of reading the period as one of the decline of oratory, due to imperial control and the rise of declamation, it stresses the continuity between Republic and Empire in the way that the Roman elite conceived of themselves and their role in public life as an orator.