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Cultural Politics in Polybius's Histories$
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Craige Champion and William Joseph Sanders

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520237643

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520237643.001.0001

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Collective Representations and Ideological Contexts

Collective Representations and Ideological Contexts

(p.173) Chapter 6 Collective Representations and Ideological Contexts
Cultural Politics in Polybius's Histories

Craige B. Champion

University of California Press

This chapter argues that, as indirect historian, Polybius represents Roman collective character in ways which conform to the ideological predilections of his target audiences, both the Roman senatorial aristocracy and the political elite in Greece, many of whom harbored anti-Roman sentiments. It also indicates that Polybius's representations conform to contemporary Roman aristocratic political ideas. The chapter then addresses the fact that Polybius calls the Hellenism of the Romans into question. Cato's political orientation toward the precedents of the Roman past amplified a well-established Roman political tradition, leaving a deep imprint on the practice of politics among the Roman senatorial aristocracy. Hellenism played a role in Roman aristocratic debates on the decay of contemporary society and the loss of ancestral virtue. Furthermore, the chapter reviews Polybius's narrative from the perspective of a Greek politics of cultural alienation from Rome. Polybius's representations of Romans conform to available Roman-aristocratic ideological conventions.

Keywords:   Polybius, Roman collective character, Roman senatorial aristocracy, political elite, Greece, Hellenism, Greek politics

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