Deconstructing Imperial Representation: Tacitus, Cassius Dio, and Suetonius on Nero and Domitian

Author: Verena Schulz
What literary strategies do Tacitus, Cassius Dio, and Suetonius apply in portraying Nero and Domitian? This book argues that the three authors respond to and deconstruct the positive accounts of imperial representation that were prevalent during the lifetimes of the two controversial emperors. They take up motifs from these earlier accounts, which they re-interpret to construct their own negative portraits. Although Tacitus, Cassius Dio, and Suetonius discuss the same historical figures and events of early imperial Rome, they are rarely examined together in one volume. Verena Schulz offers the first combined reading of their works from a philological viewpoint, analysing the various rhetorical techniques and narratological devices that they display, and the different literary and historical discourses in which they are embedded.

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Verena Schulz is a Classical Philologist at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. She has published a monograph ( Die Stimme in der antiken Rhetorik, 2014), an edited volume, and many articles on Roman historiography and ancient rhetoric.
“Zusammenfassend lässt sich konstatieren, dass Schulz vor allem durch die klare Darlegung ihrer Methodik ein inspirierendes Buch vorgelegt hat, das für Philologen und Historiker wertvoll sein dürfte. Doch ihr Beitrag beschränkt sich nicht allein auf methodische Ausdifferenzierungen, sondern auch inhaltlich hat sie einen Beitrag zum besseren Verständnis der Zeit von Nero bis Cassius Dio, seinem größten Kritiker, geleistet.” Frank Ursin, Frankfurter elektronische Rundschau zur Altertumskunde 39 (2019)
Introduction: Content and Purpose of This Study

Part 1 Constructing the Emperor in Historiography and Panegyric

1 Texts and Stories: on ‘Dinners with the Emperor’  1  An Example: Constructing Imperial Dinners  2  Ingredients for a Good Imperial Dinner  3  Critical Texts: Digesting Bad Dinners  4  Conclusions Drawn from This Case Study
2 Theory and History  1  Imperial Representation: Nero and Domitian  2  Discourse and Deconstruction  3  Literature and Persuasiveness

Part 2 Tacitus: Deconstruction and Uncertainty

3 Imperial Representation and Topics of Deconstruction  1  Military Actions: from Peace to Inactivity, from Victory to Hypocrisy  2  Building Endeavours: from Construction to Destruction  3  Public Entertainment: from Popular to Eccentric Performances  4  Nero’s Speeches: Gaining Rhetorical Power  5  Divinity: from God-Like to Unhuman  6  Atmosphere: From Golden Age to the Dynamics of Bad Times
4 Strategies of Deconstruction in Tacitus  1  Overview: How to Deconstruct Imperial Representation  2  Negative Connotations: ‘Facts’, Additions, and Foils  3  Causation and Character  4  New Forms of Logic
5 Creating Uncertainty  1  Tacitus and Theories of Uncertainty  2  Playing with Variants  3  Playing with Oppositions  4  Uncertainty and Interpretation

Part 3 Cassius Dio: Deconstruction and Typologies

6 Writing Historiography under the Severans  1  The Roman History and the Early Third Century  2  Imperial Representation in the Roman History
7 Strategies of Deconstruction in Cassius Dio  1  Negative Connotations  2  Persuasive Characters  3  The Rhetoric of Combination  4  Selection and Focus  5  Spoiling the Atmosphere
8 Deconstruction and the Construction of Memory  1  Typologies of Bad Emperors  2  Hot Memory: Why Nero and Domitian?  3  Genealogies versus Typologies

Part 4 Suetonius: Deconstruction and Entertainment

9 Biography and Eccentric Representation  1  Structure and Criticism: Current Debates on Suetonius  2  Rubrics and Representation: Fragmentation and Re-Contextualization
10 Strategies of Deconstruction in Suetonius  1  Historiographical Techniques in Imperial Biographies  2  Suetonian Techniques: the Effect of Rubrics  3  Ambivalent Techniques and a Weaker Form of Deconstruction
11 Deconstructed Elements and Miscellanism  1  Beyond Tacitus and Cassius Dio: Suetonian Deconstruction and the Historiographical Discourse  2  Between Pliny the Elder and Aulus Gellius: Suetonian Deconstruction and the Non-Historiographical Discourse

Part 5 Conclusion

Conclusion: Three Modes of Deconstruction
Appendix: Deconstruction and Rhetorical Strategies Bibliography Index
Scholars and students of Latin, Greek, and Ancient History interested in Tacitus, Suetonius, or Cassius Dio; in the emperors Nero and Domitian; in historiography as a form of literature.