Classical Literature and Quotation Culture

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


In Dialogus de Oratoribus, Marcus Aper compellingly pictures the culture of excerption among students of rhetoric in Vespasian’s Rome: taking a provocative, modernist position he asserts the multi-sensory appeal of sententiae, which attract the audience’s excerpting sensibilities, and thereby disseminate the orator’s fame. (Dial. 20.4) I will discuss how both Aper’s and Quintilian’s evaluations of the modern sententia explore the qualities which render it detachable, and thereby mobilize it as quotation in late first century rhetorical culture. Far from this contributing to a fragmentation and debilitation of oratory (as is asserted, for instance, by Tacitus’ Vipstanus Messalla, or by Quintilian himself) I will argue that the detachability of the sententia, as well as its residual attachments to its author, enable it to serve as a medium through which social, political and cultural networks are formed and reformed. In considering the sententia as ‘designed for quotation’, I will also explore what kind of mediation the sententia performs, and how its development in the first century can be understood (following Bolter and Grusin 1998) as a kind of ‘remediation’.
Period21 Jul 2016
Event typeConference
LocationExeterShow on map