Rush job : slavery and brevity in the early Roman principate
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The upswing in brief forms of literature in the early Roman principate is marked. From Ovid to Velleius Paterculus, Phaedrus to Valerius Maximus, this aesthetic trend seems to transcend genre. Such a phenomenon has thus far been understood as arising from either the pressures of literary tradition or the transformations in the organisation of elite knowledge. This article disagrees. It posits a new prospective causality behind the eruption in brevity, namely the state of slavery and its time-conscious way of being in the world. The article performs a close comparative reading of Phaedrus’ Fables alongside Velleius Paterculus’ Compendium of Roman History to show how brevity and its suspension can be understood as formal constraints, acts of service and redemptive aesthetic coping modes – all determined by the historical conditions of enslavement. It concludes with a coda on the general association of poetry with bondage and constraint in the late Republic and early Empire.
Geue , T 2022 , ' Rush job : slavery and brevity in the early Roman principate ' , Cambridge Classical Journal , vol. 68 , pp. 83 - 111 . https://doi.org/10.1017/S1750270522000082
Cambridge Classical Journal
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Cambridge Philological Society. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
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