Turn taking and power relations in Plautus' Casina

Title: Turn taking and power relations in Plautus' Casina
Author: Berger, Łukasz
Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2020, vol. 25, iss. 1, pp. 19-35
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type: Article
The paper interprets the verbal behaviour of pater familias and his subordinates in Plautus' Casina through the lenses of conversation analysis and im/politeness research. According to the approach here presented, turn-allocating techniques can function as a means of depicting power relationships – whether presupposed or emergent and negotiated on-stage – among high- and low-status characters in Roman comedies. The analysed data draw a connection between the active initiating of the dialogue, the management of the turn space, and speakership rights (e.g. silencing through the directive tace) with the dominant social position, prototypically of high-born men. The authority of Roman slave-owners, reproduced in the characterisation of the senex, has been viewed in relation to potestas, the Roman conceptualisation of default social dominance. On the other hand, the subordinate role of slaves arguably is governed by quasi-mandatory patterns of linguistic use interpreted as politic behaviour which – in interaction with free-born citizens – consisted of obedience, withdrawal, lack of initiative, and deprivation of face.
  • The paper is part of the international research project "Conversation in Antiquity. Analysis of Verbal Interaction in Ancient Greek and Latin" (SI1/PJI/2019-00283), financed by the Community of Madrid.
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