This week (after finishing up Petronius and the 'Dinner of Trimalchio') we turn to a consideration of 'intellectual freedom' in ancient Rome. Broadly speaking, we'll be looking at a couple of instances of 'censorship' and repression of (what we would call) 'free speech' along with perhaps the most significant form of 'resistance' to the Principate, Stoic philosophy.
On Tuesday I'm going to give you a brief overview of the week's topic, looking particularly at censorship (we'll consider, among others, the case of the Augustan poet Ovid). The only reading I'm asking you to do in connection with this is Tacitus' account of a famous case of repression, that of the historian Cremutius Cordus in the reign of Tiberius. So please have read this by Tuesday:
Tacitus, Annals, Book 4.34-35 (his account of the trial of Cremutius Cordus in AD 25 under Tiberius). Click HERE for a pdf of this.
From this (Tuesday into Thursday) we segue into a consideration of Stoicism, a philosophy popular among the Roman aristocracy starting in the late Republic (Cicero was a particular proponent), but which became especially important to the senatorial class of the Principate. An 'intellectual' movement, Stoicism offered the promise of a kind of libertas to those who felt they had lost it. To gain an appreciation of Stoicism, rather than have you read a lot of primary texts (and the fact is, you've already encountered Stoicism in, e.g., Epictetus and Seneca), we'll come at this through Patterson and Wirszubski. So please read:
Patterson, pp. 191-199 and Chapter 15, 'Freedom, Stoicism, and the Roman Mind' (pp. 264-290).
Wirszubski, Chap. 5, 'Principatus et Libertas: Res Olim Dissociabiles' [this last bit means 'Things Once Considered Incompatible', that is, 'The Principate and Freedom']. Click HERE for pdf of this (remember, of course, that the entire book is available to you online through UW Libraries).
NB: Between these two readings, you'll get a pretty thorough grounding in Roman Stoicism, why it's important, and its relevance to the topic of 'freedom'. Some of what you'll read here will now (I hope) be pretty familiar (e.g., you'll see that Patterson now talks about Epictetus). You'll find that Wirszubski is more 'political', whereas Patterson is more 'sociological'. But regardless of their approach, you'll see that Stoicism is one of the chief intellectual 'movements' in ancient Rome whose impact on notions of freedom was profound.
And finally, just to provide a 'bridge' from this week's topic to the next (religious freedom), please read this page from the Roman philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180):
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 1.14 (just the one paragraph...in English, obviously, but in case you want to see what Greek looks like, and don't already know, glance at lefthand side of the page!). Click HERE for pdf.
For at least the first meeting on Tuesday, we'll be considering the repression of free speech or expression, mostly from the Augustan period on (it's less prevalent under the Republic). I'd like you to think about -- and be prepared to cite -- an example or two of this in the modern period, recently or in the past, in the US or elsewhere.
What does it tell you about ancient Rome that a philosophical movement such as Stoicism appears to have been the guiding principle for Roman aristocrats and for such a long period of time? Can you think of any modern parallels?