Free Speech in Classical Antiquity


Editors: Ineke Sluiter and Ralph Rosen
This book contains a collection of essays on the notion of “Free Speech” in classical antiquity. The essays examine such concepts as “freedom of speech,” “self-expression,” and “censorship,” in ancient Greek and Roman culture from historical, philosophical, and literary perspectives. Among the many questions addressed are: what was the precise lexicographical valence of the ancient terms we routinely translate as "Freedom of Speech," e.g., Parrhesia in Greece, Licentia in Rome? What relationship do such terms have with concepts such as isêgoria, dêmokratia and eleutheria; or libertas, res publica and imperium? What does ancient theorizing about free speech tell us about contemporary relationships between power and speech? What are the philosophical foundations and ideological underpinnings of free speech in specific historical contexts?
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Biographical Note

Ralph M. Rosen, Ph.D. (1983) in Classical Philology, Harvard University, is Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Old Comedy and the Iambographic Tradition (1988), editor of several essay volumes, and numerous articles on Greek and Roman literary authors.
Ineke Sluiter, Ph.D. (1990) in Classics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, is Professor of Greek at the University of Leiden. She has published extensively on ancient ideas on language and literature and their social context.

Review Quotes

“Sluiter and Rosen have not only edited an outstanding collection of essays on freedom of speech but have supplied us with an uncommon example of scholarly parrhesia.” – Lucio Bertelli, in: BMCR (2006)


Those interested in the social history of ancient Greece and Rome, particularly the history of values; those interested in ancient ideas on language; those interested in philosophical and political aspects of freedom of speech; those interested in the history of censorship and scandalous discourse.


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