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About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the importance of Cicero as evidence for the Late Republic, and whether it’s possible to look beyond Cicero to gain a wider, more nuanced picture of what’s going in this period. In particular, we think about: (i) the range, quantity and (in the case of his letters) immediacy of Cicero as a source for the politics of the Late Republic; (ii) the patchiness of Cicero’s coverage and the partiality of his view; (iii) the relative (un)importance of Cicero as a historical actor; (iv) the longer-term trends that led to the collapse of the Republic; (v) Cicero’s views (as found in the De Re Publica) on what could be done to save the Republic; and (vi) some of the other sources available to historians that give a more nuanced view of the Late Republic, e.g. archaeology.
– Erich S. Gruen, The Last Generation of the Roman Republic (1974)
– Elizabeth Rawson, Intellectual Life in the Roman Republic (1985)
In this course, Dr Ed Bispham (University of Oxford) explores several aspects of the politics of the Late Republic. In the first module, we think about the extent to which structural deficits within the Republican constitution were responsible for its collapse. In the second module, we think about the tension between the optimates and populares – who they were and what they stood for – before turning in the third module to the influence of Sulla on the political culture of the Late Republic. In the fourth module, we consider the role of the (so-called) First Triumvirate in dominating and deforming Republican politics before turning in the fifth module to consider why agrarian reform is such a controversial and emotive topic in this period. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about the importance of Cicero as a historical source and the ways we can look beyond his evidence to gain a wider, more nuanced picture of what’s going on in the Late Republic.
Ed is interested in all areas of antiquity, the classical world and its interlocutors. At Oxford, he teaches most ancient history papers. For the past decade and a bit more he has been thinking about how historians should and can use archaeological data, and vice versa. He has been very lucky to be able to go to the mountains in central Italy and think about this while other people shovel large amounts of soil around. Currently he is chairman of the Sub-Faculty of Ancient History and Classical Archaeology: his present project involves trying to find out what this means in practice.
His research interests fall broadly into three categories at the moment: the history, archaeology and epigraphy of Italy, especially the impact of the Roman conquest; the political and cultural history of the Roman Republic; early Roman historiography. He is Co-Director of the Sangro Valley Project (Phase II), with Prof. Susan Kane, of Oberlin College, Ohio.
Cite this Lecture
Bispham, E. (2020, March 11). Politics of the Late Republic - Cicero [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/politics-of-the-late-republic/cicero-eb53cd21-8be8-4827-a7fb-464c0e8d7a07
Bispham, E. "Politics of the Late Republic – Cicero." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Mar 2020, https://www.massolit.io/courses/politics-of-the-late-republic/cicero-eb53cd21-8be8-4827-a7fb-464c0e8d7a07