Like Father, Like Son? The Dynamics of Family Exemplarity and Ideology in (Fragmentary) Republican Oratory

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The strategic mobilisation of family ancestry either to launch an attack upon an opponent, or to shore up one’s own case for credibility is a well-known technique observable in Republican oratory, especially in forensic contexts. Yet very little attention has been accorded to the intersection of familial and ideological exempla in Republican oratory. What were the specific political contexts which allowed an orator to invoke a family exemplum—their own or their opponent’s—in an ideological contest, beyond the domain of character building or invective? This chapter unpacks this question through an examination of some oratorical fragments that feature diverse ideological flashpoints (a popularis tribunate, the Social War, and tyrannicide) in which orators within and outside of families capitalized upon their ideological histories. Three families—the Lutatii Catuli, the Livii Drusi and the Junii Bruti—and their exempla are adduced as case studies, demonstrating that family exempla could become ideological exempla too. At a methodological level, this study’s use of fragmentary oratory grapples both with the Ciceronian bias inherent to the study of Late Republican oratory and with the interpretation of oratorical fragments in multiple historical contexts, such as those found in the anonymous Rhetorica ad Herennium.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationInstitutions and Ideology in Republican Rome
Subtitle of host publicationSpeech, Audience and Decision
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781108681476
ISBN (Print)9781108429016
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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