Sulla and the practices of anchoring in political discourse: cultural memory and the use of symbols in Roman Athens

Title: Sulla and the practices of anchoring in political discourse: cultural memory and the use of symbols in Roman Athens
Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2021, vol. 26, iss. 2, pp. 193-210
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type: Article

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This paper discusses strategies of negotiating Roman control over Athens in a contested political sphere during the first century BCE. It explores the language in Athenian political discourse, political reactions to Roman power, and the ideological grounds for decision-making in the pre- and post-Sulla periods, tracing continuity in practices and focusing on the iconographical choices of the New Style coinage of Mentor and Moschion. To that end, it examines the different articulations of power as manifested at a symbolic level; it traces reforms in Athenian civic narratives in a period of increasing Roman activity in the East; it highlights links between Athenian cultural memory and decision-making during this period; finally, it explains the ways the embedded, new narratives were disseminated. The evidence shows significant political fluidity in first-century Athens and mirrors the political elites' understanding of the role of the past and the need for constructing new political narratives depending on circumstances
The research for this article was funded by Anchoring Innovation, which is the Gravitation Grant research agenda of OIKOS, the National Research School in Classical Studies, the Netherlands. It is financially supported by the Dutch ministry of Education, Culture and Science (2017–2027). For more information see An early version of this research paper was presented at the Laetae Segetes VII Conference (Brno, 18–20 November 2020). I am extending my gratitude to Prof. Onno van Nijf, Dr Stefanos Apostolou, the two anonymous reviewers, and my colleagues from the Department of Ancient History at Groningen for the insightful comments and thought-provoking discussions at various stages of this work. All remaining mistakes are, of course, mine. All translations provided are my own unless otherwise indicated. If not indicated, dates should be taken as BCE.